It’s been a rough stretch for the Canucks as of late. But nothing could have prepared fans for the events that transpired on Monday night. After a dominating start where the Canucks built a 3-0 lead, everything came crashing down in the blink of an eye. The Canucks allowed seven goals in the third period, tying a franchise record for the most allowed in a single period. So let’s take a look at this one, as much as it pains us.
After a relatively slow start to the first period, things heated up on Vancouver’s second power play of the night. While it’s been no secret that the Canucks have been horrendous on the power play this season, the Islanders have somehow been even worse on the penalty kill. The Canucks rank 27th in the league on the power play while New York ranks 29th on the penalty kill.
Chris Higgins took advantage, using a rebound opportunity created from a shot that ricocheted off the post to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead. The chance was created thanks in part to Yannick Weber’s blistering one-timer which hit the crossbar, deflecting back out in front of the crease. Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov tripped while scrambling to recover trying to make the stop and Higgins was able to deliver a backhand shot on net. The puck actually hit the crossbar again and deflected off Nabokov into the net. Now that’s what I call utilizing your resources.
After a few seconds of 4-on-4 hockey, the Canucks had their third power play of the night as the second period began. However, it was more of what we’ve been used to seeing as Vancouver couldn’t manage to produce a shot after getting six on net during the previous power play. Can’t score every time, but a few shots would’ve been nice.
Shortly later, Henrik Sedin scored a goal in the most Henrik Sedin way possible. After gaining possession behind the net, Henrik fought off 11 and tried to center the pass. He literally wasn’t even aiming for the net. The puck just happened to be redirected off the body of Cal Clutterbuck, who was hit into the path of the pass by Kevin Bieksa. Had Juice not put the hit on Clutterbuck, there never would’ve been a goal. The goal was Henrik’s first since December 14. Nicklas Jensen was credited with an assist on the goal, the first point of his career.
I know how much you all love 2-0 leads. Ryan Kesler made sure to get his team out of that ominous situation. With the Canucks on the power play, Alex Edler delivered a shot on net from the point, creating another rebound chance. Bieksa managed a quick shot off the post which Nabokov tried to stop as it deflected off. The Canucks had another open net when Nabokov found himself on the ground yet again amidst the chaos in front of the net, and Kesler was able to finish off the play to give the Canucks a 3-0 lead.
The Canucks were feeling good going into the final period, but Jack Capuano must’ve given his team one hell of a speech during the intermission. Moving the puck along the boards at the end of a power play, Matt Donovan found Josh Bailey for the one-timer goal as Lack couldn’t adjust quick enough as the Islanders got on the board.
New York then managed to move the puck around the zone perfectly as a fake slap shot from Kyle Okposo got Chris Tanev on the ground. Okposo tapped a soft pass to the front of the net where Ryan Strome was ready and waiting. Again, Lack was too slow to adjust and all of a sudden, it was a 3-2 game just like that.
A mere 22 seconds later, the Islanders struck again. Calvin de Haan delivered a shot on net from the point which deflected off the stick of Shawn Matthias and into the net, sucking all the life out of this team. In a span of just over two minutes, the Canucks had blown a 3-0 lead.
Things would continue to get worse from there. In the final moments of yet another power play, the Islanders struck yet again. Okposo deked around Bieksa, creating space for a shot on net. The shot deflected off a teammate and back out to Frans Nielsen who gave the Islanders a 4-3 lead.
Finally, the Canucks struck back. After some good work along the boards freed up the puck, Chris Tanev sniped a wrister on net from the point to tie the game, sending a much needed jolt of electricity into the Canucks who had flat lined to that point during the period.
The hope was short lived, however. After seemingly routinely playing the puck behind the net, Lack strolled back into his crease. Unfortunately, he was not prepared for Matt Martin’s backhanded shot on net to give the Islanders the lead once again.
Yes, blowing the 3-0 lead was humiliating. But Tanev’s goal to tie things back up did pump some electricity into the fans. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for the team. Things just went from bad to rock bottom.
After Kevin Bieksa attempted to leap and keep the puck in the offensive zone, the Islanders came up with possession and charged down the ice. 27 managed to fight off Dan Hamhuis just long enough to trigger a chaoctic series of deflections and second chances where somehow, Lack was sprawled out of his crease and Hamhuis had become goalie. Needless to say, his kick save form wasn’t exactly flawless as Anders Lee scored essentially a free goal to make it 6-4.
To add insult to injury, Cal Clutterbuck scored an empty net goal to wrap up the third period from Hell. New York’s seven goals in the third period tied a Vancouver franchise record for most goals allowed in one period.
Yes, the penalties were a major problem. The Islanders tied the game with three straight power play goals. But that’s no excuse. Vancouver is one of the best team’s in the league at killing off penalties. Giving up three straight power play goals in the span of under four minutes is simply unacceptable for any team.
Tanev’s goal gave the Canucks a chance to stop the bleeding. They wasted no time at all throwing that second chance down the drain. As soon as Martin netted the backhander, you just knew this one was over.
After the Dallas blowout, Kevin Bieksa said, "If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is."
Well, now you do. Now, it’s on to the next one. Somehow, someway, the Canucks must move past this collapse and gear up for one hell of a late push if they hope to sneak into the Western Conference playoffs. That last chance begins Wednesday as the Canucks kick off a four-game road trip that includes an awkwardly soon reunion with Roberto Luongo in Florida.