The narrative on Saturday night for the Canucks was one we’ve all become plenty familiar with this year. Plenty of chances on net with practically nothing to show for it. In a 5-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver held a 32-21 edge in shots but managed just one goal.
The Ducks have beat Vancouver in each of their four meetings this season and have outscored the Canucks 14-2 in their last two wins. Anaheim will return to Vancouver on April 7 for the final meeting of the year between the two teams. Keeping that one at three goals or less for the Ducks would probably be considered a good moral victory at this point.
After a Brad Richardson goal cut Anaheim’s lead in half during the first period, the Ducks answered back with three unanswered goal to walk out with a dominating win.
Frederik Anderson turned in an impressive performance for Anaheim, stopping 31 of 32 shots faced while Eddie Lack struggled to stop the rebound chances all night as the Ducks piled on the goals.
While the Canucks were shorthanded early in the first period, Chris Higgins showed patience while outnumbered 3-to-1 as Brad Richardson skated in down the middle for a pair of chances on net that nearly beat Anderson.
The Ducks struck first seven and a half minutes into the game. A shot through traffic from the top of the point slipped past Eddie Lack as Luca Sbisa scored his first goal of the season to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead. Not only was the goal the first of the year for Sbisa, but it also snapped his streak of 41 games without a goal.
Just over a minute later, Matt Beleskey snapped a 15-game streak without a goal after he was left alone in the slot for an easy chance against Lack to extend Anaheim’s lead to 2-0.
After a near shorty earlier in the period, Brad Richardson responded right back with a goal to cut Anaheim’s lead in half. The play started as Ryan Stanton threw a shot towards the net from the blue line. Richardson was camped out in front to come up with the deflection goal, his 10th of the season. Stanton and Zack Kassian were credited with the assists. The assist for Kassian to give him a career-best four-game point streak with two goals and five assists in the past four games.
The Ducks nearly scored again with two near goals, both missing off the posts as the game remained 2-1 heading into the first intermission with the Ducks holding a slight 8-7 advantage in the shots department.
After outshooting the Ducks 6-1 to start the second period, the Canucks went on the power play which has been strong as of late at Rogers Arena with three goals in the last six chances. With 25 seconds left on the power play, Shawn Matthias was sent off for hooking to end the power play early.
The Ducks extended their lead with another rebound goal in front of the net as Saku Koivu tapped in a backhander past Lack to give Anaheim a 3-1 lead. Koivu had previously gone 17 games without a goal.
Soon after, Eddie Lack took a hit as Corey Perry crashed into him in the crease. Lack was a little slow to get back up but would shake it off and remain in the game.
Tensions would finally boil over as Alex Burrows and Ryan Getzlaf would drop the gloves and exchange a few blows while getting Getzlaf’s jersey up over his head. Kevin Bieksa and Getzlaf had initially been pushing each other around and Burrows stepped in to defend his teammate. Getzlaf was initially looking down at his hand after punching Burrows’ helmet
The Canucks had another pair of chances from Chris Higgins and Jordan Schroeder, but Andersen managed to stop both shots. The Ducks would head into the final intermission with a 3-1 lead.
Seven minutes into the third period, the Ducks continued to build their lead as Corey Perry chopped in another rebound goal in front of the net. Jason Garrison had blocked a shot on net, but Perry was right there to beat Lack and build Anaheim’s lead to three goals.
Vancouver had another good chance to cut into the lead when Daniel Sedin set Jordan Schroeder up with a pass in front of the crease, but Schroeder wasn’t able to come up with possession in a chaotic scrum in front of the net.
After struggling all night on the power play, the Ducks finally scored while on the advantage as Mathieu Perreault sent a wrist shot past Lack for his 18th goal of the season to make things 5-1 in favor of the Ducks. Anaheim had come up short on all five of their power plays previously.
The Canucks are back in action on Tuesday night when the New York Rangers come to town. Since the playoffs are all but a distant dream at this point, let’s just focus on the “AV returns to Vancouver,” narrative. Frustrations are clearly boiling over as the season winds down, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team responds to close things out.