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Short Memory

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
In the film, “Men in Black,” government agents played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones possess a memory-wiping device.

The Vancouver Canucks might well be interested in getting their hands on it after Tuesday night’s performance.

The Canucks blew a 2-0 second period lead and never recovered as they fell out of a Western Conference playoff spot by dropping a 4-2 decision to the visiting Colorado Avalanche. Vancouver now sits a single point behind eighth place Nashville with just two games to play.

Leaving the ice to mix of cheers and jeers from the GM Place (un)faithful, many Canucks spoke of the need to try and forget this game and move on to the next one.

“Right now what we’ve got to do is focus on winning the hockey game on Thursday [against Edmonton],” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “Obviously, we know we need help and hopefully we’ll get some help but before that if we don’t win on Thursday it doesn’t mean anything. So we’ll get everybody pumped up tomorrow and we’ll go and have a good game on Thursday.”

While there might be a tendency to scoreboard watch from here on out, Roberto Luongo believes his group needs to focus on its own business, not anyone else’s.

“We can’t be worried about what’s going on in the standings,” said Luongo. “We have two games left and we have got to win them both and that’s all that we can focus on right now. Winning the next two games and the rest we can’t really control what’s going to happen so we should just be worried about the next two games and hopefully we can get some help.”

Captain Markus Naslund echoed Luongo’s sentiments.

“Well, we have to win [the two remaining games],” said Naslund. “We can only look at our two games. We can’t worry about what’s going to happen with the other games. We put ourselves in this position and we just have to do what we can to get back [in a playoff spot].”

To get back where they were – in control of their own destiny – the Canucks will surely have to eliminate their recent trend of giving up goals in bunches. On Tuesday, Vancouver allowed three tallies to the Avs in a 5:19 stretch. The final two of those goals came just 35 seconds apart.

In a March 28 loss to Minnesota, it was two goals in six minutes, then two more in five minutes that did Vancouver in. Against this same Colorado team on March 26, it was two tallies in 73 seconds, then two more in 62 seconds that finished Vancouver off. And that came just a night after the Canucks allowed two third period goals to the Flames in a 41-second span that gave Calgary a 3-2 victory.

Vigneault was at a loss to explain why his defense has had such lulls, particularly against Colorado.

“Well for some reason this year they’ve got our number and it seems to be they use the same scenario, in a short span they get two, three goals on us that just really hurts us.”

According to Luongo, his team just lost its focus and let the Avalanche back into the game.

“I think we played a first half where we played a really good game and then they got one and in a 10 minute span I think we kind of lost it for a little while,” said Luongo. “And once you have a lead you have to protect it well.”

The road for Vancouver from here is a tough one. Not only do the Canucks likely have to beat both Edmonton on Thursday and Calgary on Saturday, but Vancouver needs Nashville to drop at least one of its two remaining games, either against St. Louis or Chicago. Stranger things have certainly happened.

But for the Canucks to rebound and do their share – win their remaining two games – they’ll have to put the memories of this meltdown and the ones that preceded it behind them.

And all that’s required for that is for each player to look into this bright red light. Flash!  

4 – Goals – at least – allowed by Roberto Luongo for the third time in four games.

4:39 – Of ice-time for Taylor Pyatt, who left the game after a first period collision with Jeff Finger and did not return.

6 – Shots for Ryan Kesler to lead all skaters. Kesler was the game’s second star and scored his 21st goal of the season.

33 – Goals in 55 career games against Vancouver for Canuck-killer Milan Hejduk. Hejduk’s disputed second period tally tied things up.

The offense had its fair share of chances in the first couple of periods but when the game was on the line and Colorado was sitting back in the neutral zone, Vancouver didn’t generate much of anything.

A so-so night. Vancouver should win most games in which it gives up only 20 shots but a five-minute stretch in which the Avs dictated the play decided this one.

The PP got a big goal early in the second but failed on a crucial third period opportunity that could have pulled the Canucks even. The PK gave up the goal that got the Avalanche rolling and finished 2-for-3.
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