Tyson Barrie #4 of the Colorado Avalanche shoots the puck past Yannick Weber #6 of the Vancouver Canucks and goalie Eddie Lack #31 of the Vancouver Canucks for the game winning goal in overtime at Pepsi Center on March 27, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Canucks 3-2 in overtime.
Photograph by: Doug Pensinger, Getty Images
DENVER — Their cause may be lost. Their spirit isn’t.
Thursday night, as the Phoenix Coyotes were pounding another nail in Vancouver’s playoff coffin, the Canucks came back from a 2-1 second-period deficit and took the Colorado Avalanche to overtime before Tyson Barrie converted a Matt Duchene pass to give the Avs a 3-2 victory.
The single point left the Canucks five points back of the eighth-place Coyotes, who beat New Jersey earlier on Thursday, in the West. They’re also six back of the Minnesota Wild who were pounded 5-1 by the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night after dropping a 5-2 decision to the Canucks on Wednesday night.
“It’s one thing saying no one is going to quit but I think you have to show it,” said Zack Kassian, who scored the game-tying goal late in the second. “With the leaders we have in here, they’re not going to let anyone quit. We have a lot of people with pride in themselves and the organization. No matter what the case is here, no one is going to quit.”
Kassian, with his second goal and sixth point in his last three games, tied the game when he won a net-front battle and poked a loose puck past Semyon Varlamov. The Canucks then played a solid third period, killing two third-period penalties while outshooting the Avs 10-7 to drag the game into overtime.
That was the good news. The not-so-good news was they gave superstar-in-the-making Duchene a little too much room early in overtime and the Avs centre found Barrie for a clinical tip-in past Eddie Lack.
Duchene also opened the scoring for the Avs in the first period after Jordan Schroeder failed to clear the Canucks’ zone.
“I knew after the first period,” Lack said of the Coyotes’ result in New Jersey. “I mean we feel (the same way) for every game right now. It doesn’t really change anything for us.
“We know we have to win pretty much every one (of their remaining seven games).”
“We don’t believe we’re out,” said Kassian. “No one’s quitting on each other. If we bring this effort in our homestand, we should be fine.”
The Canucks, in fact, played a better all-around game against the Avs than in the previous night’s win over the Wild. They outshot the Patrick Roy’s team 31-28, went one-for-five on the power play with Yannick Weber scoring in the first period and killed all three of their penalties.
The spirited affair also featured a dandy fight between Tom Sesisto and Patrick Bordeleau and a couple of altercations between Ryan Kesler and Duchene.
“No bad news for me here,” said head coach John Tortorella. “We’d like to get the two but that’s a huge point for us. That’s three out of four this trip. We just keep on going.”
The Canucks now return home for five games against teams that currently hold playoff spots before they finish against Calgary and Edmonton.
“We’re right there,” said Tortorella. “We’re still in it. We’ll take a day off tomorrow and get ready for the next one.
“We’ve been positive right on through. Just talking to them, we’re fine in our room. We’re going to keep on playing. I really like the way the team has taken each day that’s come their way.”
As for the injury front, it almost goes without saying the Canucks might have lost another player. Kevin Bieksa went down in the second period. He tried a shift in the third but didn’t return. Naturally, he’d been playing his best hockey of the season when he went down.
“I’m not sure,” Tortorella said of Bieksa’s status. “He was just too sore. We’ll have a better idea (on Friday).”
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