As the final seconds ticked away at Rogers Arena on Thursday night, Kevin Bieksa, sitting frustrated on the bench, smashed his stick against the boards. That about summed up the night. Blame those Millionaires jerseys. The Canucks have never won while wearing the crimson and cream.
For 40 minutes on Thursday night, the Colorado Avalanche outshot, out-hustled and simply outplayed the Vancouver Canucks. That was all they needed, going on to defeat the Canucks 4-1 at Rogers Arena.
Six of Vancouver's last seven losses have come against teams like Columbus, Arizona, Buffalo and New Jersey, all who are simply finishing out the season as a formality. That trend continued against the Avalanche as the Canucks once again played down to their opponent's level.
Yannick Weber scored 15 seconds into the third period on the power play, but it proved to be too little, too late for the Canucks.
The Avalanche struck three times in the second period, including two goals in less than three minutes as they denied the Canucks of a crucial two points.
Eddie Lack was brilliant for the Canucks during the first period, stopping 18 shots to keep the game scoreless while he waited for his team to get going offensively. Lack finished the night with 34 saves, but a rough second period cost Vancouver dearly.
At the other end of the ice, Reto Berra got a rare start in net after the Avalanche had turned to Semyon Varlamov in 28 of their last 29 games. Before tonight, Berra's last win was all the way back on November 6 in a 4-3 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Berra turned in his best performance of the year, stopping 33 of the 34 shots he faced on the night. When the Canucks finally came to life in the third period, Berra stood his ground, stopping 18 shots in the third period alone.
After registering 25 shot attempts in the first period alone, the Avalanche finally beat Eddie Lack early in the second period. Gabriel Landeskog skated around from behind the net to the top of the slot, sending in a shot that deflected off Jerome Iginla for the goal at 3:23.
#Canucks sticking to game plan: Let other team score first. Then comeback.— Hosea Cheung (@hoseacheung) March 27, 2015
Iginila had plenty of space in front of the crease, so all Landeskog had to do was put it towards Iginla, and the puck was bound to go in.
Alex Tanguay added to Colorado's lead midway through the second period with a rebound goal at the left side of the crease. Just moments earlier, Landeskog forced Chris Higgins to cough up the puck in Vancouver's zone, creating a clean breakaway chance. Lack managed to stop Landeskog's shot, but just moments later, Tanguay played the puck off the boards perfectly to make it 2-0 at 10:17.
Higgins could've so easily skated up the right side, but noooo he had to try cutting across Landeskog. WTF— omarmillionaire (@omarcanuck) March 27, 2015
Landeskog got some redemption for his missed breakaway chance, striking at 12:56 off some tic-tac-toe passing with the Avalanche on the power play, putting Colorado up 3-0.
Whatever Willie Desjardins said in the locker room during the second intermission must have worked, because Yannick Weber blasted in Vancouver's first goal just 15 seconds into the third period with the Canucks on the power play. Henrik Sedin hit Weber, who bursted into Colorado's zone to unleash the slap shot past Berra, making it 3-1.
WEBER https://t.co/Y2dYWTVfIz— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 27, 2015
Trailing by two goals midway through the third period, the Canucks had without a doubt their best shift of the night. Vancouver kept the puck in Colorado's zone for over a minute, getting a few good scoring chances on net. Perhaps the best chance came when Linden Vey snuck into the slot and took a pass from Alex Edler, but couldn't beat Verra. No goals came from the shift, but it had at least pumped some life into Rogers Arena.
The Canucks registered four more shots on a late power play when Codey McLeod tripped up Jannik Hansen at 13:53 in the third period. However, Verra continued to turn away shot after shot, no matter how good the opportunity was for the Canucks. Sometimes, you just run into a goaltender who ate his Wheaties for breakfast that day.
Vancouver did all they could to mount a third period comeback, but Weber's goal was simply too little, too late. John Mitchell added an empty-netter with one minute left to cap off the win for the Avalanche.
The Canucks will look to rebound on Saturday night as they welcome the Dallas Stars to Rogers Arena. Vancouver will be looking for their first win of the year against the Stars before taking off on a tough four-game road trip that will feature stops in St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago and Winnipeg. So if it is true that the Canucks level of play matches that of their opponents, they could be just fine. Or, it could make everything they've done this year irrelevant if they somehow collapse. The scary part about this team is that we simply don't know which one is going to show up. Here's to hoping they really do match their opponent's level on this road trip.