After Saturday night's debacle against Toronto, the big question was this: would the Canucks come out tonight with more passion and fire against the Minnesota Wild? The Wild, playing their first game under interim coach John Torchetti, had lost eight straight and won one game in 14 coming into Vancouver.
If you want to skip the rest of this ramble, I'll tell you now. They did not. Instead, the Canucks dropped a 5-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild.
With Emerson Etem scratched, Alex Friesen slotted in.
Minnesota got off to a fast start, generating excellent net presence and getting the first three shots. Canucks took an egregious too many men on the ice penalty at 2:25 of the 1st, pitting the Wild's hot power play against the Canucks' respectable-of-late penalty kill. But Jacob Markstrom looked super sharp holding the Canucks in early.
so #Canucks response to a 5-2 loss to the Leafs is to get outshot 7-1 in first 5 mins by a team that's lost 13 of 14. Okay then...— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) February 16, 2016
The Canucks spent the first half of the first period puckwatching and chasing in equal measure.
Matt Bartkowski was separated from the puck, trying to carry it out from behind his own net, and at 9:31, Zack Parise scored on a world-class wrister up above Markstrom's glove to make it 1-0 Minnesota.
Canucks got a sliver of zone time after the goal, but Jannik Hansen took a high-sticking penalty at 10:10, giving the Wild their second power play. Even John Shorthouse wondered aloud what Willie Desjardins must be thinking, given their sluggish start.
Vancouver's new look power play with Ben Hutton at the point got its first shot when Ryan Carter tripped Luca Sbisa in the Canucks' zone. That unit twice worked the puck around to isolate Linden Vey in prime shooting area, but he missed the net and hit the post. The rejiggered power play units looked like an improvement.
Chris Tanev scored the Canucks' first goal on a nifty pass from Henrik Sedin with four seconds left in the power play.
Tanev goal pic.twitter.com/IxFnIkQ1lY— Stephanie (@myregularface) February 16, 2016
Jared Spurgeon scored a strange one at 16:46. Markstrom appeared to be trying to get out of the way of the shot, which went in off and over his shoulder. Jacob Markstrom was terrific through the first, but that goal put a damper on his performance.
Not a great goal, I guess it's tough to blame a guy for moving his head out of the way of a slap shot but Markstrom leaned out of the way.— Stu Walters (@StuWaltersmedia) February 16, 2016
Shots after one period were 17-4 Wild. And while the Canucks might have breathed a heavy sigh of relief getting to the intermission 1-1, the second Wild goal felt deflating.
Sign of dark times in Vancouver: Intermission Timbit player says his favourite Canuck player is Fin...— Paul McLellan (@McLellanPaul) February 16, 2016
The Wild started the second with almost 90 seconds of zone time, just failing to connect on a pretty passing play. At 2:12, a terrible defensive breakdown by Alex Biega and Matt Barktowski helped the Wild make it 3-1.
Biega + Bartkowski have played just about 308 minutes together at 5-on-5 this season. The Canucks have been outscored 5-13 in those minutes.— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) February 16, 2016
Jake Virtanen, who was a feisty presence on the second power play unit in the first period, nailed Marco Scandella with a hard body check shortly after the Minnesota goal. He and Alex Friesen looked to be two of the few Canucks who came to play from the beginning.
Zack Parise took a tripping penalty at 10:05. Canucks were quick to capitalize, as Henrik's attempted pass to Sven Baertschi went off Devin Dubnyks' stick and bounced in.
The ol' backhand, no look power play goal pic.twitter.com/lWc6jrGFKf— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 16, 2016
Jason Zucker shortly after failed to score on his second breakaway of the period, then took a penalty in the Canucks' zone. The third power play was listless, and the center ice referee called Bo Horvat for a hit in the far corner on Jared Spurgeon. The penalty was called hooking, though there was no evidence of a hook on the play. Henrik Sedin called the penalty borderline at best during the post-game scrum.
Charlie Coyle was credited with a goal on the resulting Wild power play, though the goal went in off Tanev, as he tried to block the cross ice pass. Coyle's goal tied the teams in own goals, and put the Wild ahead 4-2 on the scoreboard.
With under five left in the second, Jarret Stoll took a delay of game penalty, swiping the puck out of the air and into the netting behind the Minnesota goal. The Canucks had reasonable pressure on the resulting power play, but did not score. With 30 seconds left, the Wild got an odd-man rush off of a failed Dan Hamhuis point shot, but Markstrom stood tall.
The second period ended 4-2, and while the Canucks looked less lethargic in portions of the second, they were still very, very disappointing coming off the Toronto game.
Wild have a 4th goal tonight...just the 2nd time in 2016...20 games...that they have 4 goals in a game.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) February 16, 2016
Corey Hirsch suggested during the second intermission panel that part of the problem with the Canucks right now is that they are too much in limbo. Players don't know if the Canucks will be buyers or sellers at the deadline, or even if they will be in Vancouver in two weeks.
#mnwild leads 4-2 after 2....23-12 on shots. Canucks had Wild on heels for parts late in the period, largely bc of 3 penalties— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) February 16, 2016
The Canucks played with a wee bit more hustle to start the third period. But Henrik Sedin took a high sticking penalty on Justin Fontaine at 5:31. While the Wild didn't score, their breakout and zone entry on the power play looked conspicuously effortless compared to the Canucks' most nights. Wild were 1-4 with 9 shots on the power play Monday.
Canucks followed the penalty kill with decent back and forth play with the Wild. For the first few moments of the evening, they looked evenly matched with the Wild. Not that it translated to the scoreboard.
At 4:45, Daniel Sedin had Dubnyk beaten to the glove side, but rang the puck off the post. Christian Folin jumped up into the play -- one of the rare times the Wild pressed in the 3rd -- and Nino Niederreiter put it in the Vancouver net, making it 5-2 Minnesota.
The Minnesota Wild were fine. Their star players looked good playing their first game for a new coach. But they didn't have to be great, playing a Canucks team that started the game flat and never really mustered a push.
This will be the #mnwild's first victory in 26 days, snapping an 8-game losing streak...They had one win in the past 14 games, 3 in 2016— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) February 16, 2016
Ouch. Last 4 #Canucks home games for your hard-earned dollars: lose to No. 30, 28 and 26 overall, and now to team riding 8-gm losing streak.— Brad Fay (@SNBradFay) February 16, 2016
The Canucks are now somehow only six points out of a Wild Card playoff spot, and six points out of the NHL basement. But two straight disappointing home efforts against beatable teams suggest this team is teetering the wrong way. They'll be back at it Thursday against the suddenly mighty Anaheim Ducks. Maybe the sight of Ryan Kesler can rouse the hate out of the Canucks.
visitors are now an incredible 16-7-3 vs #Canucks at Rogers Arena. That's 35 of 52 possible points = .673 hockey— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) February 16, 2016