Canucks begin Trevor Linden era on wrong foot in 4-2 loss to Avalanche

Rich Lam

The Canucks and Avalanche were even after two periods, but three goals in the third period buried the Canucks on Thursday during Trevor Linden's first game as team president.

It was a wild past couple days for the Canucks after the firing of Mike Gillis and the hiring of Trevor Linden over the span of 24 hours. Unfortunately from the Vancouver, it was the same result as the Canucks gave up three goals in the third period to the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-2 loss.

The Canucks managed to get 40 shots on net, but Semyon Varlamov turned in a masterful performance with 38 saves. Jacob Markstrom, who has spent much of his time in Vancouver this year on the bench, stopped 24 shots on the night.

The win was Varlamov's 41st of the season, a new franchise record. The previous record of 40 wins was set by Patrick Roy during the 2000-01 season.

After holding the Avalanche without a shot for six minutes, Henrik Sedin opened the scoring for the Canucks with his 11th goal of the season. Daniel Sedin delivered a bank pass off the boards to Dan Hamhuis who fired in a shot from the point. Henrik positioned himself in front of the net for the first period goal to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.

Late in the first period, Colorado would tie things up when Paul Stastny forced a turnover to come up with a breakaway opportunity. Stastny forced Nicklas Jensen to lose possession of the puck, and it was off to the races. With no one left back to defend, Stastny easily beat Jacob Markstrom to tie the game heading into the first intermission.

Chris Higgins had a great opportunity early into the second period when Semyon Varlamov went behind the net to play a puck. Jannik Hansen hustled in to put some pressure on Varlamov who tried to clear it around the boards, but there wasn’t much on it as Hansen was able to come up with possession and hit Higgins who sent a blistering wrist shot, forcing Varlamov to react quickly.

Much like their previous game, the second period proved to be a struggle for the Canucks to muster chances on net with just one shot on goal in the last nine minutes of the period and just six shots total in the middle period.

The Avalanche would take the lead in the third period when Paul Stastny delivered a rebound goal, his second of the night. After Markstrom stopped the initial shot by Erik Johnson, Stastny slipped into the slot to position himself perfectly for the go-ahead goal. Henrik and Hamhuis had skated over towards Johnson, leaving Stastny wide open for his second goal of the night.

It wasn’t long until the Canucks would come up with the equalizer. David Booth came up with the puck off the boards off a shot from the point off the stick of Hamhuis that went wide, slippping a shot past the right shoulder of Varlamov and under the bar to tie things up just over a minute and a half after Stastny’s go-ahead goal.

The Avalanche would reclaim the lead at the 12:30 mark in the final period when Tyson Barrie went coast-to-coast to beat Markstrom for the go-ahead goal. Kevin Bieksa skated deep into the offensive zone, so it was bad news when Barrie came up with a heads-up pass from Jamie McGinn. Barrie used a nifty toe drag to beat Edler for the goal to put Colorado back on top.

Alex Edler nearly tied up the game with five minutes to play, as he was able to send a great shot on net, but Varlamov came up with an even more impressive glove save to preserve the lead for Colorado.

A slashing penalty to Jannick Weber with 2:06 left ended any chance Vancouver had at tying things back up. With 42 seconds left in the game, Tyson Barrie dumped in what looked to be a routine pass just to get the puck into the offensive zone for Colorado. Bieksa attempted to knock the pass down, but wound up batting it right to John Mitchell who knocked the puck down and iced the game with the late empty net goal.

The Canucks now head to Edmonton for their final road game of the year against the Oilers, followed by the season finale against the Flames at Rogers Arena on Sunday. Just one more weekend before we begin what is sure to be one of the busier off-seasons the Canucks have seen in recent years as they try to figure out what went wrong and how to avoid a similar result next year.

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