Coyotes 1 Canucks 0: 'We’ve got to find a way to score'

 

 
 
 
 
Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith (41) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) move into position to protect the goal as Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin (22) tries to control the puck to get a shot off during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz.
 
 

Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith (41) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) move into position to protect the goal as Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin (22) tries to control the puck to get a shot off during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz.

Photograph by: AP Photo, Ross D. Franklin

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — It looked like Henrik Sedin had scored. He thought he scored. And when a video review ruled that a rebound that went off the right glove of the Vancouver Canucks captain wouldn’t count for what would have been the third-period equalizer Thursday, it was symbolic.

A pointless performance by the re-aligned top line that featured Ryan Kesler with Henrik and Daniel Sedin was cause for great concern in a 1-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Canucks were not only swept on this three-game road trip in which they managed just one goal, they’ve lost eight of their last nine games. That 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 10 seems like so long ago. Like a mirage. Like it didn’t happen.

If that’s not bad enough, a trio of incidents involving Martin Hanzal has the Canucks hurting more than just on the scoreboard. Mike Santorelli left the arena with a sling on his right arm, which could be a shoulder injury from a collision. Henrik Sedin had post-game treatment after taking a slash in the ribs from the Coyotes centre and David Booth was also in discomfort after Hanzal got a double-minor for high sticking the winger late in the game.

It gave the Canucks a four-minute power play to draw even. But of course they couldn’t. A pitiful 0-for-7 performance on the power play was crushing because Daniel Sedin sent a shot over a wide-open net in the second period and the Canucks couldn’t even set up with their goalie pulled and a 6-on-4 advantage in the final minute.

“We had a couple of good looks late in the game, but we’ve got to find a way to score,” said Kesler. “It’s getting old. It starts with myself, Hank and Danny. We have to lead the way and we’re not getting it done. The power play was bad tonight. It’s one thing to not score, but we didn’t generate momentum. It pisses you off.

“The trip was horrendous. It was awful. I’m pissed off right now. I need to be better, we need to be better as a group. The way we played pisses you off.”

The Canucks have continually sung the same refrain about playing well defensively and expecting that to translate into offence or when they aggressively forecheck to cause turnovers by outmanning the opposition. It sounds good and looks good on paper, but something is seriously amiss. The margin is so small for error — especially against the stifling Coyotes who had lost four straight and clogged the neutral zone like a traffic jam — that a simple lack of execution was going to mean big trouble.

That’s what occurred when the Coyotes scored on the power play in the first period. Dan Hamhuis couldn’t clear the puck and then had an Antoine Vermette shot from the side go off his stick and past Eddie Lack. It was the third time in the last two games that a puck deflected in off the defenceman.

“We just don’t do the job on the penalty kill and it’s the game of little details,” said Canucks coach John Tortorella. “And it’s tough sledding in developing offence. This stuff. Lack of confidence and this and that. We’re grown men here. It’s a big part of our business to make the right plays at the right time. Our top guys need to lead the way here and it has to happen quickly for us to get going in a game like this. We develop offence and we win the game.”

When Daniel Sedin put the power-play puck over a wide-open net, it was like a field-goal kicker missing a 20-yarder.

“I had a great chance,” said the winger. “That would have kick-started our team. You can’t miss those chances. We were kind of throwing pucks instead of wanting to have the puck. That’s missing now.”

Brad Richardson forced Olympic goalie Mike Smith to stretch to stop a 2-on-1 chance in the third period. Daniel Sedin then had another failed chance. It meant Lack couldn’t let another puck beat him after the Vermette goal, even though he showed from the outset that being yanked in Anaheim after allowing three goals on 13 shots was not his true form. He stopped Lauri Korpikoski with a glove save off a 2-on-1 short-handed break in the opening period and then stopped Radim Vrbata off a 3-on-2 rush in the second period.

It kept the Canucks in a game they could have won.

However, going 5-for-44 in the last 14 games on the power play isn’t going to cut it, but at least the Canucks canned the idea of having Kevin Bieksa as a net-front presence against the Coyotes.

Chris Higgins aligning with Henrik Sedin and Kesler with Daniel Sedin and Alex Edler on the points should have had a greater impact. Instead, the Canucks look like they need to go back to the drawing board because they look tentative.

“We need to practise,” said Kesler. “Practice makes perfect and that gains confidence for the game.”

Right now, they’re anything but perfect.

bkuzma@theprovince.com

twitter.com/benkuzma

 
 
 
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Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith (41) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) move into position to protect the goal as Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin (22) tries to control the puck to get a shot off during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz.
 

Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith (41) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) move into position to protect the goal as Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin (22) tries to control the puck to get a shot off during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz.

Photograph by: AP Photo, Ross D. Franklin

 
Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith (41) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) move into position to protect the goal as Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin (22) tries to control the puck to get a shot off during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz.
Canucks' Chris Higgins (20) and Henrik Sedin get sandwiched into a pile in front of the Coyotes' goal in the first period at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz.
Phoenix Coyotes' Antoine Vermette, left, and Keith Yandle (3) shout in protest after an apparent goal by Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin (33), of Sweden, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. The goal was nullified. The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 1-0.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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