Blame Tortorella for losing spiral, as Canucks collapse again in loss to Leafs
'We just have not done a good enough job because our guys are just not consistent enough,' says coach
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left winger Joffrey Lupul during second period NHL action in Toronto on Saturday February 8, 2014.
Photograph by: Frank Gunn, THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO – Before today, the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Vancouver Canucks was 2003. It seems about that long since the Canucks won a game.
Another Olympian collapse by Vancouver in the third period sent the Canucks spiralling into the National Hockey League's Olympic break on a seven-game losing streak after the Leafs scored three times in less than five minutes late in the game to win 3-1.
The loss, in a game the Canucks led 1-0 and managed beautifully for two periods, ended one of the most discouraging road trips in franchise history. Vancouver lost all five games in regulation time and, after potentially memorable matchups this week against Original Six teams in Detroit, Boston, Montreal and Toronto, stagger into the Olympic break on its worst outright losing streak in 15 years.
There is fault for everyone, although John Tortorella tried to claim much of it.
“It's pretty obvious that the coaching staff here has not done a good enough job teaching details of situational play,” the Canucks' head coach said. “Third period, wall play, underneath the puck – we just have not done a good enough job (as coaches) because our guys are just not consistent enough. That's going to be a huge focus as we go through this break and get ready to play again.”
Vancouver led 1-0 going into the third period and were playing a superb road game until suddenly getting over-run, unable to make plays to protect their lead or relieve Toronto pressure.
Former Canuck Mason Raymond tied it 1-1 at 7:23 when he skated out from behind the net, saw goalie Roberto Luongo on his knees and fired high, short-side to burst Vancouver's defensive dam.
Phil Kessel gave the Maple Leafs the lead at 10:03 when his savvy wrist-shot through traffic beat Luongo from 45 feet, and James van Riemsdyk made it 3-1 at 12:05 when he chopped at the puck and sent it caroming in off Canuck defenceman Alex Edler.
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quota the last five weeks.
“You can't be in that situation,” Tortorella said. “We can't let the momentum change in that third period the way it did. That's details. I need to take full responsibility for that. Obviously, we have not taught well enough because we continue to make the same mistakes at crucial times of games.
“You guys may not see the little things that happen before goals, but we (coaches) do. That situational play has just not been consistent enough.”
Tortorella said he added to the current crisis by getting suspended six games for charging towards the Calgary Flames' locker room between periods on Jan. 18. The Canucks are 2-8 since then.
“There's not much else to say,” Luongo said. “It's disappointing to head into the break like that. We really need to regroup over the next couple of weeks and come back with a fresh mindset and get back at it. Whether guys are going to Olympic or on vacation. . . we have to make sure when we get back, we really put the hammer down here. We want to win some games and get back in this thing.”
Luongo and Canuck defenceman Dan Hamhuis will join Team Canada in Russia. Other Canucks leaving here Sunday for the Sochi Olympics are Swedes Daniel Sedin and Alex Edler, American Ryan Kesler and Raphael Diaz of Switzerland.
“It's not what we wanted to do,” Kesler said of heading to the Olympics on a losing streak. “We've got to use this break to refocus and re-energize and come back stronger.”
Asked why the Canucks have been so dismal in the third period recently, Kesler said: “No idea.”
“I don't know.”
Sedin said: “You're almost more afraid of losing than trying to win a game.”
The Maple Leafs had lost 11 straight games to the Canucks since 2003, but there is no game Vancouver can't lose these days.
The Canucks have lost six times this season – four in regulation – when they carried leads into final frame. The losing streak has been characterized by the Canucks' lack of energy and execution in the third period.
The last Canuck forward to score a third-period goal was Mike Santorelli on Jan. 10. And Santorelli hasn't played since being injured a week later.
Against the Leafs, the Canucks went ahead 1-0 near the end of the first period and looked as sturdy and capable in the second period as they have for weeks.
Kesler scored the Canuck goal at 19:38 of the first period. His tumbling shot may have clipped a Maple Leaf before fooling goalie Jonathan Bernier. A favorable bounce has been nearly as rare lately for the Canucks as sustained pressure.
Also for a change, Vancouver actually managed their lead – at least for a while – playing a safe and simple second period. Luongo had few difficult saves to make. But in the third period, he couldn't make enough saves, and the Canucks couldn't do enough to help him.
They've got a lot to think about during the Olympic break, and lots of time to think. The Canucks' next game is Feb. 26 against the St. Louis Blues.
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