Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack looks down as the New York Rangers celebrate their 2nd goal with Bennot Pouliot.
Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG
VANCOUVER - Alain Vigneault’s team did what a lot of his teams have done at Rogers Arena the past several years. His team won.
This time was different, of course. This time Vigneault was the visiting coach and his new team, the New York Rangers, beat his old team, the Vancouver Canucks, 3-1 on Tuesday night.
The Rangers are on their way to the playoffs, a place Vigneault took the Canucks six times in his seven seasons as their coach. The Canucks are heading to the golf course or will be after they play the final five games of their season.
The future of their coach, John Tortorella, remains uncertain and before the game a handful of protesters wearing Fire (Mike) Gillis T-shirts were shooed away from outside the arena by security.
It has been that kind of season. The stuff happening off the ice is a whole lot more interesting than what is happening on it these days.
With their playoff chances hanging by a mathematical thread, the Canucks competed hard but were once again done in by a lack of finish and lousy special teams play.
“I thought the effort was very good,” said Vancouver winger Daniel Sedin, who had his best game in ages. “We should have won this game but it doesn’t matter right now. We are where we are because we have been on the wrong side of these kinds of games throughout the season and it’s frustrating.
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The Canuck power-play went 0-for-2 and surrendered a short-handed goal at 10:15 of the third period to Martin St. Louis that pretty much iced the game for the Rangers. New York went 1-for-3 on its power-play chances.
“Another short-handed goal and the PK didn’t get the job done,” said centre Ryan Kesler, who scored Vancouver’s lone goal. “That was the difference.
“I thought we outplayed them tonight. Other than the speciality teams I thought we were the better team 5-on-5 and it’s just too bad we couldn’t get a win.”
It was a win the Canucks needed to keep their playoff hopes at least flickering. The Dallas Stars won and the Phoenix Coyotes lost in a shootout Tuesday night so the Canucks now find themselves six points back of both teams with just five games left.
The Canucks cannot be officially eliminated from the playoffs before their next game, which is at home Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings.
Vancouver had the better scoring chances in the first period. It didn’t matter, the Rangers led 2-0 after 20 minutes.
Kesler had two excellent chances early in the first, but was stopped on both occasions by Ranger goalie Henrik Lunqvist, who also thwarted Chris Higgins on a breakaway and turned aside an Alex Burrows re-direct.
The Rangers, meanwhile, made the most of their opportunities. Daniel Carcillo jammed the puck past Vancouver goalie Eddie Lack following a lengthy scramble in front of the net at the 4:59 mark. That scramble occurred after Lack couldn’t handle the puck when it bounced off the boards. Lack appeared to have the puck frozen at one point,, but the Rangers dug it out.
“I felt like I had it under my glove and got pitch-forked and I lost it and they scored,” Lack said.
The Rangers got a power-play goal at 14:43 when Benoit Pouliot converted a pass from Derick Brassard.
The Canucks cut the New York lead in half at 6:21 of the second when Kesler fought off a check by Dominic Moore to take a pass from Daniel Sedin and wire a shot past Lundqvist.
The Canucks had a chance to tie the game with back-to-back power plays midway through the third period, but instead surrendered that short-handed goal to St. Louis, who converted a 2-on-1 rush with Rick Nash. That rush was the result of a bad pass back to the point by Vancouver winger Zack Kassian. Defenceman Yannick Weber couldn’t reach the puck and St. Louis and Nash were set free the other way.
“I felt like we gave up a lot of 2-on-1s and eventually they are going to score,” Lack said. “It’s a good shot from a good player.”
The goal was St. Louis’ first in 15 games as a Ranger.
“It’s always nice to score goals, especially in a winning way,” St. Louis said. “I guess the first one is the toughest one to get. I’ll keep pushing.”
Vigneault, meanwhile, was not about to add any salt to the Canuck wounds. He knows this market well enough to understand what the team is going through.
““It’s two points,” Vigneault said. “We’re battling to get in (the playoffs). That’s all it is.”
The win was the 25th on the road this season for the Rangers, which is a franchise record.
The Rangers' fourth line opened the scoring as Dan Carcillo jammed in a loose puck after Eddie Lack initially mishandled the puck at the side of his net. New York made it 2-0 before the end of the first, Benoit Pouliot one-timing home a Derick Brassard pass on the power play. Ryan Kesler pulled Vancouver to within one in the second when he drilled a Daniel Sedin feed past Henrik Lundqvist. But the Canucks, who almost never come back, surrendered a shorthanded goal to Marty St. Louis in third and went down 3-1.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Canucks gave up the first two goals of the game for the third straight home game... The St. Louis shortie was just the third shorthanded goal scored on the Canucks this season, all of them on home ice... Ryan Kesler has gone 16 games without an assist but has five goals during the same stretch... The Canucks have collected seven of a possible 56 points when trailing after two periods (3-24-1)... Vancouver won the faceoff battle 34-22, led by Brad Richardson's 9-for-12 night. Shawn Matthias was 11-for-17.
DID YOU NOTICE?
Daniel Sedin, not noted for his hitting, crushed Ranger defenceman Ryan McDonagh in the second period deep in the New York zone. McDonagh was slow to his feet but stayed in the game... Jannik Hansen, who started on the fourth line for the second straight game, had a partial break down the right wing in the middle period but totally missed the net... Ranger defenceman Marc Staal completely tying up Hansen's stick with a loose puck in the crease area without drawing a penalty.
Asked at the morning skate about the talk concerning his job security, Canuck head coach John Tortorella responded this way: “All the noise and all that stuff out there, I get it. It's out there but I don't really pay too much attention to it. I don't worry about it. I feel very comfortable just continuing to work with this team and that's how I go about it. I don't get locked into any other stuff. But I know it's around.”
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