The Vancouver Canucks were already wounded, recently losing their captain Bo Horvat and top-six forward Tanner Pearson and even their back-up netminder Jaroslav Halak to injury. Multiple players have been banged up or out with illness lately and the 6-3 loss Thursday night against the Wild seemed like a microcosm.
At one point Brock Boeser blocked a shot with his hand and was briefly shaken up, defenceman Tyler Myers suffered an injury and was hobbled and stuck on the ice when the Wild scored their third goal of the game.
Brad Richardson took a wicked high stick from Kirill Kaprizov late in the first period and left the ice bleeding. He came back for the second period despite a broken nose. Later in the game Canucks leading scorer JT Miller blocked a shot with his right knee and went down in anguish. He would return.
This was ‘regular season playoff hockey’ against a very hard checking, difficult, and red hot Minnesota team.
“Miller’s blocking a shot, he’s got a couple of ice bags on, Richardson breaks his nose and still wants to play,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau pointed out. “That’s the kind of effort and character that these guys have and I’m very proud of them. They never quit, they never die, so obviously tonight was very disappointing at the end, but the fact that they could have given up a long time ago (and didn’t), the odds were so against us.
“But they believed and they still believe, they’ll believe again tomorrow,” he added, “until it shows that we’re eliminated I’m sure these guys are going to keep pushing right til the end.”
The Canucks visit the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
“It sucks, we had a lot of guys go down recently,” said Canucks forward Conor Garland postgame. “Everyone stepped up and played as hard as we could for as long as we could and just kept winning games, just trying to give ourselves a chance, but it’s a tough loss for that. A lot of guys played hard for a long time and that won’t change for the last four (games).”
It all unfolded on a night when at least one of the teams the Canucks were chasing, lost. The Dallas Stars fell again, one night after dropping a game in Edmonton against the Oilers, they lost in Calgary to the Flames 4-2.
The LA Kings, clinging to third place in the Pacific Division, were holding a 2-0 second period lead at home to the Chicago Blackhawks.
It’s not mathematically over for the Vancouver Canucks and until it is, it appears they’re battle continues.