For the first time since they returned from their season opening road trip with a record of 3-2-and-1, the Vancouver Canucks entered a game at home with a decent level of confidence. The Canucks are coming off back-to-back road wins over the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. In October they returned home off consecutive victories over the Chicago Blackhawks and Seattle Kraken and lost their first home game 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild. Then the next two, again by one goal each time, to the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers.
Fool Me Once …
The Canucks played an entertaining first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with both teams getting decent chances, more of the them for the visitors (7-1 officially), who out-shot Vancouver 12-8. Early on, the Vancouver break-out seemed more controlled, the passes more precise. That phenomena degenerated as the period wore on, with Tucker Poolman making some ill-advised rushes and pinches, and Quinn Hughes adding an odd choice or two.
Regardless, the period ended scoreless and the Canucks were in the game. For a little while longer …
The Penalty Choo Choo
The problems in the 2nd period started with JT Miller taking a tripping penalty at 7:58. It took the Canucks team out of any flow it may have had at 5-on-5. Even if they weren’t being dominant, the Canucks, with the NHL’s worst penalty kill, didn’t want to be spending any needless time in the box. Thatcher Demko was forced to make some huge saves.
After the Canucks killed the penalty, 1:13 later to be exact, Miller went off again for tripping. Again, the Penguins failed to score. Still a 1-1 game, but the penalty killers were getting worked, as was Demko, as the rest of the team sat on the bench and watched. Just another negative by-product of the Canucks, any team for that matter, consistently going shorthanded.
It was an augur of things to come. As in three more consecutive Canucks penalties, leading to back-to-back 5-on-3’s for Pittsburgh. They scored on both. Just like that, in the span of 1:10, the Penguins suddenly had a 3-1 lead. To cap it off, after the 2nd power play goal was scored, Conor Garland of the Canucks expressed his frustration and took a 10-minute misconduct.
Oh, and red hot Jake Guentzel of the Penguins had a hat trick. That’s right, three goals in less than two full periods and in 14:21 of personal ice time. At that point, he had 18 points in his last ten games against the Canucks. (He’d add an assist later to make it 19 in ten)
The shots on goal after two periods: 34-12 Pittsburgh.
Gee, whatayaknow, come from behind hockey in the third period for the Canucks at Rogers Arena.
There’s no other way to describe it. After about six minutes of the first period, the same ole, same ole began to show up. Bad rushes, turnovers, and eventually stupid penalties. Come up with whatever you excuses you want. Good, more disciplined teams create their own breaks; bad, not so disciplined teams have the breaks go against them.
It doesn’t matter if a goal deflected in off a defenceman. Boo hoo. It’s all a part of a different version of the same mess.
And speaking of boos, they started with seven minutes remaining in the third period.
The body language and the perceivable chemistry between these players is disturbing.
They Said It:
Bo Horvat on the loss: “Disappointment,” Horvat stated. “I thought we did a good job of making it 1-to-1 and obviously we ran into some penalty trouble there in the second. It’s tough to play catch up against that team.”
Tyler Motte on Thatcher Demko carrying the team and not being rewarded: “I don’t think it’s any secret that he’s been our most consistent, one of our best players all season long,” Motte said. “He’s kept us in a lot of games, given us opportunities. Unfortunately, it’s sad the number of times we’ve hung him out to dry.”
On the fans booing the team: “Fans want wins and we’re not giving it to them,” Horvat said.
“We owe it to more people than just ourselves to put a better product together,” Motte said.
“When you lose it’s hard, I get it,” Head Coach Travis Green said. “People get frustrated, we get frustrated too. Players they’re mad when they lose, coaches are upset when they lose as well.”
Simmer’s Canucks 3 Stars:
3. Justin Dowling – He played the least, 6:24, and blocked a shot. (OK, that might just be me being a smartass. Or not)
2. Vasily Podkolzin – Scored the lone Canucks goal, seemed to play angry with determination.
1. Thatcher Demko – Stopped forty shots. Made huge saves throughout as his team was dramatically out-chanced.