Trailing 3-0 midway through the second period, Vancouver needed a score quick and when referee Eric Furlatt threw his arm in the air to award the Canucks their first power play of the game, the tides appeared to be turning. Roberto Luongo
swiftly made his way to the bench allowing Ryan Kesler
to join the play, he darted up the ice as Henrik Sedin
circled in the Vancouver zone preparing to break out with brother Daniel and Pavol Demitra.
At the Canucks blueline Hank had his pocket picked by Viktor Tikhonov, who hacked at the puck and tried to free it from Shane O’Brien in an attempt to stop the play.
Tikhonov never had possession, but he got just enough of it and that, combined with the tap O’Brien gave it, resulted in a perfectly botched play - one that will be airing on sports blooper shows for years to come.
The puck had just enough momentum to scurry down the ice into the empty net, followed by a sprawling O'Brien.
Ironically enough, the freak goal was awarded to Tikhonov and was scored on a delayed penalty to Tikhonov. It was announced overhead as he served out his hooking minor.
“I’ve never been on a team as a player or a coach where when you pull your goaltender for an extra player on the power play, that you end up putting the puck in your own net,” said a bewildered Alain Vigneault.
That goal, the one that will have Canucks fans cringing for decades to come, was a prime example of how much puck luck Vancouver had on this night in a 5-1 loss to Phoenix.
The Coyotes put their first goal in off the skate of Mattias Ohlund, their second score was a long shot that grazed O’Brien’s stick and eluded Luongo and the fourth goal was the aforementioned gaffe; if you add up Vancouver’s own-goals with Alex Burrows’ 24th of the season, this game should have been decided in overtime with the score even at 3-3.
“There were a lot of bad bounces tonight and unfortunately their first goal was a bad one and we kind of never recovered from that,” said Luongo, who was given the hook after 40 minutes, the second time he’s been pulled this season.
Thursday night the Canucks won a record 11th consecutive home game with a dominating 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues and Luongo was named the first star for an outstanding performance.
On this night Vancouver lost for the fourth time in as many games on the road and Luongo made way for Jason LaBarbera to start the third period – talk about going from one extreme to the other.
“I think a game like tonight is really one that you just put behind you,” said Luongo, who finished with 20 saves.
“If we look at all the goals maybe just one of them, the third one, was a legit goal. The other ones were off our skate, for one of them I wasn’t even on the ice, so you just put it behind you and move on.”
Short-term memory loss would be in Vancouver’s best interest with this the first of six straight road contests for the Canucks; they now have two days off before taking on the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
Coach Vigneault was stern that his team needs a better showing in that game to avoid another outcome like this, and more own-goal misery.
“I haven’t seen the replay [of the Tikhonov goal] but obviously our execution wasn’t what it needed to be and it’s proof that in this league, if you’re at all off on any area of your game, whether it be the execution or the emotion, this is too strong of a league and there was more proof tonight.
“You say that in an 82-game schedule games like this are going to happen, but at the end of the day this was a missed opportunity for us and it was there, everybody knew about it, but our game wasn’t good enough.”
With the Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks both idle on Saturday, the Canucks had a chance to move two points ahead of the Blackhawks and to within one of the Northwest Division leading Flames.
Instead Vancouver slumps down into fifth spot only three points in front of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who collected a pair of points earlier in the evening.
Onward and upward for Vancouver, as they say, which shouldn’t be hard as it can’t get much more downward and awkward than it was for the Canucks on this night.