Iain MacIntyre: Canucks lose game versus Jets, momentum in playoff race

 

Vancouver starts strong, finishes weakly on four-game road trip

 
 
 
 
Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal against Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets during first period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
 
 

Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal against Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets during first period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Photograph by: Marianne Helm, Getty Images

More on This Story

 

WINNIPEG – Everyone knew that 2-2 was going to represent a successful road trip for the Vancouver Canucks. But nobody knew they would sweep the first two games against formidable opponents to put themselves in position to clinch a playoff spot.

The National Hockey League team flew home today after losing its second straight, 5-4 to the Winnipeg Jets, to finish their trip 2-2 and maintain self-determination in the Western Conference and Pacific Division races. But with work still to do over the final three home games, .500 on the road didn’t seem as good today as it sounded last Sunday when the Canucks flew to St. Louis.

“If you would have asked me before this trip, I probably would have been happy going .500 on the trip,” Canuck goalie Eddie Lack said after allowing five goals 36 shots. “But you know what? As it turned out we won the first two so (finishing 2-2) is disappointing. We’ve got to regroup now, go home and try to clinch it at home.”

The victory nudged the Jets within three points of the Canucks, who could still fall into the wildcard race despite sitting second in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of the Calgary Flames and five up on the Los Angeles Kings.

The Flames play the Edmonton Oilers tonight while the Canucks open a season-ending three-game homestand Monday against the Kings.

Today’s loss follows the Canucks’ 3-1 defeat Thursday in Chicago. After opening the trip with wins on consecutive nights in St. Louis and Nashville, Vancouver was playing its fifth game in 7 ½ days.

“I thought we played hard the last two games; it’s not that we didn’t play hard,” Canuck coach Willie Desjardins said. “And it’s not that we didn’t know how important those games were. We know we have to win some games or we’re not going to get in. We battled hard, we just didn’t win.”

It was a game with playoff atmosphere, but neither playoff defending nor goaltending as the Canucks and Jets traded scoring chances.

The Jets never looked safe with the lead, but they were the only team that had one.

The Canucks fell behind early and trailed for all but 37 seconds of the final 55 minutes.

Alex Burrows’ goal on a beautiful pass from Daniel Sedin brought the Canucks within a one with 2:05 remaining and Lack on the bench for an extra attacker. But the Vancouver could not score again. Canuck Chris Higgins hit the post with a mishit shot from just above the crease with about 90 seconds to go.

“I was getting hit from behind as I shot it and just heeled it,” Higgins said. “But I was kind of surprised it popped out; the puck on that angle usually goes post and in. We just didn’t get the bounce.

“(The Jets) have given up a couple of leads lately and when that happens, you have a little more fragile mindset. We always felt we could tie it up even when we were down two. We had our opportunities. We were close.”

Lee Stempniak’s second goal of a game, a quick breakaway and five-hole finish after a turnover on the side boards by Canuck Jannik Hansen, put the Jets up 5-3 at 9:36 of the third period and turned out to be the winning goal.

“Once we went down 5-3, that’s tough,” Desjardins said. “It’s not too often you get two (late) goals. We got the one and we hit the post. But you can’t put yourself in that spot.

“We gave up too much early. We had (the scoring chances) 11-9 in the first period for them. We liked our nine, but the 11 for them certainly was more than we should be giving up.”

The Jets scored twice in 50 seconds to take a 2-0 lead in the first 5 ½ minutes. Canuck defensive coverage was poor on both goals

Jim Slater skated unchecked out from behind the net to convert Jiri Tlusty’s savvy pass to make it 1-0 at 4:34 after all five Canuck skaters were caught on one side of the ice.

Michael Frolik fired through a mosh pit to make it 2-0 at 5:24 after Bryan Little wheeled around defenceman Alex Edler and forced a strong save from Lack, who was then buried by Mathieu Perreault after the Jet was knocked into him by Canuck Chris Tanev. Perreault was on top of Lack as Frolik scored.

With the Canucks in danger of getting blown out, their power-play scored a timely goal 9:37. Henrik Sedin reacted quickly to steer the end-boards rebound from Edler’s point shot behind Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

The other Sedin, Daniel, tied it at 17:37, shooting under a disoriented Pavelec after Radim Vrbata skated the puck behind the net before reversing it to Sedin.

Success, however, did not sit well with the Canucks and they fell behind again only 37 seconds later when Vancouver centre Linden Vey hesitated on coverage and Perreault’s brilliant cross-ice pass created a far-post tap-in for Stempniak.

Lack allowed a weak goal in the final minute of the second period, letting Mark Scheifele’s opportunistic shot squeeze between his torso and right arm to make it 4-2. Indicative of the game, the Jets gave the goal back eight seconds later when Winnipeg defenceman Toby Enstrom took an inexplicably bad angle on Burrows, who accepted Kevin Bieksa’s pass and beat Pavelec on a breakaway.

“At 3-2, Vrbie (Vrbata) had a breakaway,” Burrows said, reciting Canuck chances to tie it. At 4-3, we had a great power-play chance. And at 5-4, Higgy had a chance on the doorstep. We were right there. At the same time, we gave up a lot of great chances. Especially down the stretch, you need to find ways to be better defensively.”

The Canucks need to find a way to win one or two more games.

“There was no easy breathing for that one,” Jets’ coach Paul Maurice said. “But it’s good to win a game like that. A lot of tension. You could see it with some of the puck movement there in the third, especially. At 5-3, we did a real good job at least until the goalie came out. They do have some special players there.”

ICE CHIPS – The Canucks are 27-1 this season when scoring four or more goals after landing the quad against the Jets. . . Shots were 36-30 Winnipeg, which dominated 46-26 in the faceoff circle. . . Vancouver scored the only power-play goal, which means the Canucks are now 15-1-1 when it outscores the opposition’s power play. . . Lack, who played for the 19th time in 20 games, allowed 12 goals in the final three games of the road trip.

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal against Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets during first period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
 

Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal against Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets during first period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Photograph by: Marianne Helm, Getty Images

 
Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal against Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets during first period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Eddie Lack #31 of the Vancouver Canucks blocks a shot by Drew Stafford #12 of the Winnipeg Jets during second period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Winnipeg Jets’ Jacob Trouba (8) gets checked onto Vancouver Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack (31) by Christopher Tanev (8) during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Eddie Lack #31 of the Vancouver Canucks blocks a shot by Drew Stafford #12 of the Winnipeg Jets during second period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Eddie Lack #31 of the Vancouver Canucks looks behind him to the puck after Mark Scheifele #55 of the Winnipeg Jets scores during second period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack (31) keeps his eye on the puck against the Winnipeg Jets during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Alexander Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks flies over Chris Thorburn #22 of the Winnipeg Jets as he tries to get the puck from Jim Slater #19 as Shawn Mattias #27 looks on during second period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Adam Lowry #17 of the Winnipeg Jets gets caught between Derek Dorsett #51 and Shawn Mattias #27 of the Vancouver Canucks during first period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Mark Scheifele #55 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his goal during second period action in an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Lee Stempniak #20 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his goal with teammate Mathieu Perreault #85 during first period action in an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Winnipeg Jets’ Chris Thorburn (22) and Jim Slater (19) celebrate Slater’s goal against the Vancouver Canucks as Shawn Matthias (27) skates by during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks’ Alexandre Burrows (14) and Daniel Sedin (22) celebrate Burrow’s goal against the Winnipeg Jets with their bench during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 4: Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks skates behind goalie Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets after Alexandre Burrows #14 (not shown) scores during second period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Adam Lowry #17 of the Winnipeg Jets and Luca Sbisa #5 of the Vancouver Canucks shove each other during second period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Vancouver Canucks’ Henrik Sedin (33) scores on Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31) as Jets’ Jacob Trouba (8) and Mark Stuart (5) defend during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 4: Alexander Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks gets caught up on top of Chris Thorburn #22 of the Winnipeg Jets during second period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks puts the puck in the net behind Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets during first period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Vancouver Canucks’ Henrik Sedin (33) celebrates his goal on Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31) as Jets’ Jacob Trouba (8) and Mark Stuart (5) look on during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks’ Henrik Sedin (33) Radim Vrbata (17) and Yannick Weber (6) celebrate Sedin’s goal on Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31) during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks’ goaltender Eddie Lack (31) keeps his eye on the rebound as Winnipeg Jets’ Adam Lowry (17) and Canucks’ Christopher Tanev (8) look on during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks’ Shawn Matthias (27), Daniel Sedin (22), Yannick Weber (6) and Henrik Sedin (33) celebrate Daniel Sedin’s goal against the Winnipeg Jets during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Sven Baertschi #42 of the Vancouver Canucks takes to the ice during first period action in an NHL game against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Winnipeg Jets’ Michael Frolik (67) celebrates his goal against Vancouver Canucks’ goaltender Eddie Lack (31) as Canucks’ Alexander Edler (23), Christopher Tanev (8), Daniel Sedin (22) and Jannik Hansen (36) look on during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Winnipeg Jets’ Blake Wheeler (26), Drew Stafford (12) and Mark Scheifele (55) celebrate Scheifele’s goal against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Derek Dorsett #51 of the Vancouver Canucks and Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets collide during first period action in an NHL game at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Mark Scheifele #55 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his goal during second period action in an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Jim Slater #19 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his goal during first period action in an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Mark Scheifele #55 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his goal during second period action in an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at the MTS Centre on April 4, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Winnipeg Jets’ Lee Stempniak (20) celebrates his goal against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack (31) as Canucks’ Shawn Matthias (27), Linden Vey (7) and Jets’ Adam Lowry (17) look on during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice