Vancouver’s struggles continued on Tuesday night, falling 3-2 in a shootout to the Florida Panthers at Rogers Arena. The loss was the fifth straight for the Canucks, their longest losing streak since 2009. For the Panthers, it was their first win ever in Rogers Arena.
Just two minutes into the game, Jannik Hansen was sent off for an interference call to put the Panthers on an early power play. Vancouver’s penalty kill has not been an issue overall this season, ranked first in the league at 89 percent coming into tonight’s game, but Brad Boyes was able to provide Florida with a rare power play goal versus the Canucks with a backhand shot past Roberto Luongo.
The Canucks would manage to tie things up in the second period with a goal from Chris Higgins. The scoring chance was created by good hustle from Dan Hamhuis who tipped the puck towards the net after dumping it down to the boards to the right of Thomas. Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov wasn’t able to control the puck as Mike Santorelli tipped it on net. The shot bounced back out to Higgins who was able to throw it on net and past Thomas.
The Canucks put pressure on Thomas early in the third with a strong shift from the third line, nearly coming up with a go-ahead goal for the Canucks.
Just moments later, Jannik Hansen finished what his line started, placing himself perfectly in front of Thomas to rip one into the net, giving the Canucks a 2-1 lead at 2:45 in the third period. The goal was Hansen’s third of the year. The goal was a bit of a freebie as Tomas Fleischmann attempted to clear the puck up the middle of the ice, unaware that Hansen would creep in and snipe one past Thomas for the lead.
The Panthers answered back with a one-timer from Shawn Matthias, who was left wide open on the ice after a defensive lapse despite everyone being back in the zone. The goal, Matthias’ third of the season, tied up the game 2-2 with 11:26 left in regulation.
The overtime period was full of thrills as both sides were able to put quality shots and pressure on net. One minute into the period, Higgins was called for hooking, giving the Panthers a 4-on-3 chance to win the game, but clutch saves from Luongo kept the Canucks alive. In the last moments of overtime, Vancouver had their turn to try and finish off the Panthers before the shootout, which included one signature blast from Jason Garrison with just a few seconds left. Neither team found the back of the net though, so things would have to be settled in the shootout.
Jonathan Huberdeau opened the scoring in the shootout beating Luongo with the fake backhand, coming back with the forehand shot to give the Panthers the lead in the shootout. Alex Burrows took the scenic route in with an S-shaped pattern towards the net, but a pad save from Thomas put Florida in position for the win. Alexsander Barkov faked forehand, then went backhand, but couldn’t convert for the winning goal. Chris Higgins was given the chance to keep the Canucks alive, but Thomas was saved by the post as the Panthers wrapped up the 3-2 shootout win.
If there was a silver lining tonight, it's that the Canucks proved that they were capable of scoring more than just once during a game. In their previous four losses, Vancouver had managed only one goal in each loss. Before tonight, the last time the Canucks scored more than one goal was back on November 7 in a 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks.
The Canucks will have two days off before facing the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night at Rogers Arena as they look to end their five-game skid.