Linden era opens with same result as Canucks fall 4-2 to Avs


Colorado Avalanche’s Jamie McGinn, left, is stopped by Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Colorado Avalanche’s Jamie McGinn, left, is stopped by Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom.


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VANCOUVER — The Trevor Linden era began Thursday night the same way the Mike Gillis era ended: with a loss.

It’s going to take more than a new team president to right the Vancouver Canucks, who did some good things but were done in by key mistakes in a 4-2 loss to the playoff-bound Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Arena.

Once again, the third period was not their friend. The Canucks were outscored 3-1 in the final 20 minutes by the speedy Avalanche.

“I think focus, lack of focus, maybe a lack of pride defensively,” centre Ryan Kesler said when asked about Vancouver’s third-period struggles this season. “We usually get criticized for sitting back with a lead and not pushing. I thought we pushed a little too much offensively and gave up a couple of odd-man rushes there late which hurt us.”

The loss, Vancouver’s fourth in its last five games, dropped the Canucks into 12th spot in the Western Conference. Only Edmonton and Calgary trail the Canucks and the Flames could in fact pass Vancouver before this season mercifully comes to an end on Sunday night.

In the big picture, that’s probably not such a bad thing as the farther they fall the higher the Canucks will pick in this summer’s entry draft.

Linden, who was appointed president of hockey operations on Wednesday, was shown on the scoreboard in the executive box just before the opening faceoff and received a warm response from fans before sitting between assistant general managers Laurence Gilman and Lorne Henning.

But once again, the Canucks’ fans didn’t have to cheer about during the game.

Tyson Barrie, a 22-year-old Victoria native, scored the game-winner on a 2-on-1 rush at the 12:30 mark of the third period. Barrie beat Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom stick side after Canuck defenceman Alex Edler seemed to stumble on the play. Markstrom was making his first start as a Canuck after being acquired more than a month ago in the trade that sent Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers.

“It was a 2-on-1 and he (Barrie) made a good move there and pulled it across and he just shot it quick and it went through,” Markstrom said.


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“Not good enough,” added the Swedish netminder, who faced 28 Colorado shots. “It felt good to be out there but obviously you want to start up with a win.”

The Canucks outshot the Avs 40-28, but again didn’t show much finish.

“That’s great to get 40 shots but as a group we are too lax defensively,” Kesler said. “Playing defence most of the time is a thankless job and it’s hard work. So it’s great we got 40 shots, but on the other side, we hung Markie out to dry. He played good for us tonight. A couple of those we just hung him out to dry and he had no chance.”

“We played well,” said coach John Tortorella “We played hard. It takes us a lot of scoring chances to score a goal. That has been a recurring theme throughout the year. But I have no beef with our team as far as how hard we play. We need a lot of chances to score goals.”

Paul Stastny had given the Avs a 2-1 lead with his second of the night at 5:21 of the third period when he put a rebound off an Erik Johnson shot past Markstrom.

But less than two minutes later, David Booth tied the game, beating Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov high to the short side after Dan Hamhuis’s point shot had bounced off the end boards.

The Canucks opened scoring at 13:52 of the first on the type of goal they haven’t had nearly enough of this season. Henrik Sedin battled for position with Johnson in front of the net and tipped a Hamhuis shot from the left point past Varlamov. The goal was Henrik’s 11th of the season.

But a costly giveaway by rookie winger Nicklas Jensen helped the Avs tie things up before the period was over. Stastny stole the puck from Jensen at the Colorado blue line and then beat Markstrom five-hole on the subsequent breakaway.

The highlight of a scoreless second period came from the guy who won the Tim Horton’s donut contest and yelled “Torts, you’re a beauty. I love you man.”

The Canucks finished the game without winger Chris Higgins, who left the game after two periods with an illness. Defenceman Kevin Bieksa confirmed after the game he will play for Canada at next month’s world championships in Belarus.

“Rob Blake asked me and I said absolutely,” Bieksa said. “I haven’t had many opportunities to play for my country and I don’t plan on missing the playoffs too many more years so I thought I’d take this chance. It’s an honour.”

ICE CHIPS: John Mitchell scored an empty-net goal for the Avs at 19:17 of the third. . .The Canucks cancelled Friday’s practice and will head to Edmonton, where they meet the Oilers on Saturday night. They return home to close out the season Sunday night against the Calgary Flames. That game is a 6 p.m. start. . .Veteran defenceman Jason Garrison was scratched Thursday night to make room for rookie Frank Corrado.


The Canucks struck first at 13:52 mark of the opening period as Henrik Sedin deflected home a Dan Hamhuis point shot.

They gave that one back at 18:39 when rookie Nick Jensen was stripped of the puck by Paul Stastny, who beat Jacob Markstrom five-hole on the breakaway.

After a scoreless second period, Stastny made it 2-1 at 5:21 of the third with David Booth responding 1:39 later. Tyson Barrie then put it away at 12:30 as he sifted past Alex Edler during a 4-on-4 before beating Markstrom. John Mitchell added a power-play empty-netter.


Henrik Sedin's goal was his first in nine games but just his second in 33. Daniel has no goals in six games and one in his last 30 ... Alex Edler was minus-2 and now sits at minus-36 on the season. Only Steve Ott, at minus-38, has a worse mark ... The Avs tied a franchise record with their 52nd victory while goalie Semyon Varlamov won his 41st game, breaking Patrick Roy's franchise record ... The Canucks fell to 11-4-8 when tied after 40 minutes and completed their record against Central Division teams at 10-8-3 record.


After 19 straight starts, Canuck rookie Eddie Lack was given the night off Thursday. Was he worn out? ³Now that we didn't make the playoffs, it all kind of hit me like a couple of days ago,² said the Swede. “I felt like I almost crashed. It was like everything was over.” With the coaching staff planning to deploy Jacob Markstrom the rest of the way, Lack should finish the season at 16-17-5 with a 2.41 GAA and .912 save rate.


The Utica Comets kept their slim American League hopes alive Thursday with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Lake Erie Monsters, Colorado's farm team. Pascal Pelletier scored the OT winner with Jeremy Welsh and Brandon DeFazio netting the others. Joacim Eriksson made 19 saves for the win.

The Comets, 11th in the AHL's Western Conference, sit four points out of a playoff spot with five games remaining. They will likely have to run the table, as well as get some major help, in order to sneak in.

Elliott Pap

Colorado Avalanche’s Jamie McGinn, left, is stopped by Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Colorado Avalanche’s Jamie McGinn, left, is stopped by Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom.


Colorado Avalanche’s Jamie McGinn, left, is stopped by Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom.
Marc-Andre Cliche #24 of the Colorado Avalanche is stopped in close by goalie Jacob Markstrom #35 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, of Russia, makes a blocker save against the Vancouver Canucks.
Colorado Avalanche’s Paul Stastny, left, and Nathan MacKinnon celebrate Stastny’s goal against the Vancouver Canucks.
Nicklas Jensen #46 of the Vancouver Canucks tries to fight off the check of John Mitchell #7 of the Colorado Avalanche.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, bottom, of Sweden, covers up the puck as Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon crashes into the net.
Vancouver Canucks’ head coach John Tortorella, left, gives instructions to Ryan Kesler, not pictured, as David Booth looks on from the bench.
John Mitchell #7 of the Colorado Avalanche is congratulated by teammate Ryan O’Reilly #90 after scoring an empty-net goal while Kevin Bieksa #3 of the Vancouver Canucks gets up from the ice.
Colorado Avalanche’s Jan Hejda, left, of the Czech Republic, and Vancouver Canucks’ Nicklas Jensen, of Denmark, collide.
Max Talbot #25 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates after teammate Tyson Barrie’s (not pictured) scored a goal on goalie Jacob Markstrom #35 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks’ head coach John Tortorella looks up at the scoreboard as a young fan wears ear protection during second period NHL hockey action against the Colorado Avalanche.
Colorado Avalanche’s Tyson Barrie (4) checks Vancouver Canucks’ Zack Kassian during second period NHL hockey action in Vancouver.
Tom Sestito #29 of the Vancouver Canucks hits Erik Johnson #6 of the Colorado Avalanche along the end boards.
David Booth #7 of the Vancouver Canucks fires a shot on net through the check of Nick Holden #2 of the Colorado Avalanche.
Colorado Avalanche’s Ryan Wilson, back, collides with linesman Lonnie Cameron, top, while trying to check Vancouver Canucks’ Shawn Matthias.
Vancouver Canucks’ head coach John Tortorella, right, reacts after the Colorado Avalanche scored their fourth goal as Nicklas Jensen, left, of Denmark, and Daniel Sedin, of Sweden, sit on the bench.
Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche fires a shot on goalie Jacob Markstrom #35 of the Vancouver Canucks during the third period in NHL action on April 10, 2014 at Rogers Arena. Dan Hamhuis #2 of the Vancouver Canucks tries to help defend on the play.
Colorado Avalanche’s Paul Stastny, lower left, scores against Vancouver Canucks’ goalie Jacob Markstrom, centre, of Sweden, as Canucks’ Daniel Sedin, of Sweden, (22), Yannick Weber, of Switzerland, (6), Dan Hamhuis (2) and Henrik Sedin, of Sweden, (33) and Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, of Sweden, (92) look on.
Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, of Russia, allows a goal to Vancouver Canucks’ David Booth.
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