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Failure to launch

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
What goes up must come down, all good things come to an end…yadda, yadda, yadda.

The Vancouver Canucks clearly weren’t going to continue their consecutive games with a point streak forever, but the way it ended was a tad depressing.

With eight wins and two shootout losses since an early November loss to the Red Wings, the Canucks were riding a 10-game point streak going into Thursday night’s contest against the Calgary Flames.

It was the first time the team has had a double-digit point streak since the 2002-03 season when they established a franchise record by going 14 successive games with a point.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, the Flames snapped that streak with a 4-3 win.

“I don’t think either team played their best tonight but they managed to find a way to pull it out, just like we did the other night against Detroit,” said Curtis Sanford, after stopping 29 shots.

It’s a shame this game wasn’t broadcast on TSN because it’s been a while since a TSN Turning Point was so blatantly obvious.

With Vancouver clinging to a 2-1 lead five minutes into the second period, defenceman Adam Pardy was sentenced to two or less for tripping Mike Brown.

Sixty-eight seconds into the Calgary penalty kill, the Flames proved counting isn’t part of their repertoire as a too many men on the ice penalty put the Canucks on a five-on-three power play for a lengthy 52 seconds.

Vancouver threw everything they had at Miikka Kiprusoff, yet no goals came of the glorious chance to double their lead.

“We had an opportunity to make it 3-1 there and our execution was off and they did a good job killing that penalty,” said bench boss Alain Vigneault.

“Obviously that was one of the turning points in the game.”

Killing off that penalty gave the already boisterous Flames an added jump to their step and before the period was over, Mike Cammalleri tied the game with his second of three goals on the night.

Scoring on that two-man advantage would have all but doused the Flames, instead, like sneezing while building a house of cards, the Canucks blew it.

“You score on that it’s a completely different game for sure,” said Daniel Sedin, who netted Vancouver’s second goal of the game in the middle frame.

Tied at 2-2 after forty minutes, both teams looked to put the mistakes they made earlier in the game behind them and early in the third Calgary was more successful at that.

The Flames swarmed the Canucks in their own end, pinning them back for over a minute before Cammalleri beat Curtis Sanford once again.

Mason Raymond, yes the same Mason Raymond who has struggled offensively for the last nine games, ripped a puck past Kiprusoff off a two-on-one with Kyle Wellwood to break out of his scoring funk and all of the sudden the Canucks had new life with 8:42 left to play.

That vanished just over two minutes later when a Canucks turnover at their blueline led to the Flames’ game-winning goal.

Failing to capitalize on that five-on-three power play in the second ended up being the difference in this one-goal game. Vancouver never recovered from delivering the game changing momentum to Calgary on a platter.

“Guys weren’t making sharp plays out there and that’s the bottom line,” said Willie Mitchell.

“Our effort level was not there, I don’t know if we were tired or what. There’s no reason to be tired, but our effort wasn’t there. Calgary’s wasn’t there; it wasn’t a pretty hockey game.”

There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, even when you lose, even when it’s at home, even when it’s to a division rival.

Darcy Hordichuk was able to pot his first goal of the season, and first with the Canucks, to open the scoring just 5:33 into the game.

It’s tough to be selfish in a loss, but every goal is something to celebrate for the Great Hordini seeing as how he only has 14 in his career.

“Obviously it’s not my role, but anytime you can pop one in and try to help the team it’s good,” said Hordichuk.

“Unfortunately today it didn’t help us get the win. I think the next one will.”

The other plus for the Canucks is that despite being in the dog house with the schedule makers – their next seven games are on the road – they open their extensive road trip against the Flames in Calgary this Saturday.

Nothing erases the pain of a stinging loss better than enacting a little revenge.

“We know the type of game we need to play and the good thing is that we get them again on Saturday, so we get to get right back at them and it’s payback time then,” said Ryan Kesler.

“I think it’ll be a big game in their barn and I think we definitely have to work on a few things, but it’s been a good run here and we just have to keep it going,” added Hordichuk.

1 – First regulation loss to a division rival this season for the Canucks

2 Penalties taken by the disciplined Canucks

  4 – Shots for Vancouver on four power play chances, which includes the 5-on-3

  29 – Saves for Curtis Sanford in his first loss in his last three starts

400 – Career points for Henrik Sedin, he assited on Daniel's second period goal

If this were the second of back-to-back games, the Canucks could be excused for their lack of energy.

Unfortunately there was no reason for Vancouver to be flat, the offence just couldn't keep pace with Calgary's.

All three Canucks goals were nice, but the ones they left on the ice were ugly, including three great chances on a 5-on-3 power play.

There was some good and some bad.

Alex Edler's assist and the 11 combined hits by the defence was the good, Elder's turnover that led to the Calgary game-winner and the six giveaways the defence had was the bad.

Vancouver was winning because of tight defensive hockey and against Calgary that wasn't on display.

The success the Canucks had on the power play is summed up by their inability to score while on a 5-on-3 in the second period.

Vancouver was 0-for-4 overall; Calgary was 1-for-2 on the power play.

At least the Canucks played disciplined.
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