Battle in the Northwest: Wild win showdown with Canucks
The Canadian Press said the Minnesota Wild sit atop the Northwest after defeating the Canucks Monday night in Vancouver.
Big trouble trailing after two periods: 'We've had a tough time coming back against any team' -- Naslund
Ben Kuzma said the Canucks inability to stage comebacks in the third period is proving costly.
“Knowing they had yet to prevail this season when trailing after two periods, the Canucks were hoping to rid themselves of the bad taste of that sorry stat,” said Kuzma.
“But it now sits at 0-17-1 following a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at GM Place.”
"We know about it, but I don't know if it's in our head or what the reason is, and for some reason we haven't been able to do it this year," said Canucks captain Markus Naslund.
"We've had a tough time coming back against any team, let alone Minny, and we've all got to take a look in the mirror. We have to generate more than two goals because we're a different team playing with the lead."
“If winning solves everything, it also masks other things. On a night when the Canucks didn't get stellar goaltending from Roberto Luongo
, their grinders played better than their stars. Add that all up and it won't get it done most nights,” said Kuzma.
“The Canucks have now lost six of their last seven games, have just one regulation win in their last 10 outings (3-6-1) and although they're strong in division play (10-4-3), have dropped five of their last six Northwest encounters.”
“If that isn't bad enough, the Canucks have surrendered the first goal in four straight games and are 0-4 and overall they're 4-14-5 when the opposition scores first.”
“Clearly, something is amiss, even though the Canucks amassed 40 shots Monday after firing 46 Saturday in a 4-3 loss to Los Angeles,” said Kuzma.
"I think our line has been generating a lot of offence lately," said checking winger Alex Burrows, who had five shots and made it 1-1 in the second period with his first goal in 21 outings on a neat wrap-around past Niklas Backstrom.
"If we get that next goal and go up 2-1, it's a whole different game. But sometimes there's a fine line between a win and a loss, and right now we're falling behind. But we're not far off."
“The Canucks are 20-0-0 when leading after two periods, but that stat is moot if they can't get the lead entering the third,” said Kuzma.
“The Canucks did outshoot the Wild 17-6 in the first period, but that's becoming a tired refrain, even though coach Alain Vigneault again lauded his team's effort.”
"Our record in my mind is not indicative of the way we've been playing," said Vigneault. "In general, we've been outplaying the opposition and outchancing them and not been able to get that timely goal and maybe make the other team open up."
"You have to stick with what you believe in and I believe our process and work ethic is really, really good," stressed Vigneault.
Heading for a crash: Time for team to take stock, as Canucks can't buy a win in this market
Brad Ziemer said the Canuck’s recent losing streak has them battling to remain as a top eight team in the West.
“The Canucks lost their fourth straight game -- and sixth in their last seven games -- on Monday night, dropping a 4-2 decision to Northwest Division rivals Minnesota Wild at General Motors Place,” said Ziemer.
“The loss dropped Vancouver into eighth place in the Western Conference standings and the Canucks are suddenly just three points up on Phoenix, Nashville and Columbus.”
“The all-star break can't come soon enough for a team that has one regulation win in its last 10 games.”
“Monday night's game was similar to their last three. The Canucks haven't played with a lead in more than a week,” said Ziemer.
“This little post-Christmas hangover has the Canucks looking over their shoulders for the first time this season.”
"We know what is at stake," Naslund said. "It is such a tight race. We have put ourselves in a tight spot right now and we just have to respond like we did earlier in the season when things didn't go well. We have to go back to doing those little things that paid off at that time."
“Despite all the losses, coach Alain Vigneault continues to see a silver lining. Like they did Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings, the Canucks generated lots of shots but again couldn't finish their chances,” said Ziemer.
"We're getting a lot of pucks at the net, but we just can't get those good chances and when we do get them we're not finishing them off,” Naslund said of the Canucks, who outshot the Wild 40-26.
“After the teams traded goals 45 seconds apart midway through the second period, Pierre-Marc Bouchard gave the Wild the lead for good when he beat Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo
from the left faceoff circle at 12:36 of the second,” said Ziemer.
“It was a controversial goal as it followed a collision between Canuck centre Ryan Kesler
and Wild defenceman Brent Burns at the Minnesota blue line. Kesler appeared to duck when he saw Burns coming at him and went down in a heap. The fans screamed for a penalty, but no call was made and Bouchard took a pass from Keith Carney before skating in and putting the puck between the legs of Luongo, who again was the second best goalie on the ice.”
“Mikko Koivu pretty much iced things with a goal at 15:35 of the third. Taylor Pyatt beat Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom with Luongo on the bench for an extra attacker at 19:31 to make it 3-2, but seven seconds later Bouchard scored his second of the night into an empty net.”
“Brian Rolston and Alex Burrows, who snapped a 20-game drought, traded goals in the second,” said Ziemer.
“The Canucks, who have now lost three straight on home ice, dropped to 25-19-5. The Wild improved to 27-18-3.”
“The Canucks play host to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night in their final game before the All Star break.”
"We look a lot like the team last year that at one point might have been struggling a little bit to score goals and win games and then turned the corner and went on a big stretch," said Vigneault. "Last year, we started our stretch after Christmas. Maybe this year we'll start it after the All Star break."