They knew it would end sometime, but with the way they lost this game, it was particularly disappointing.
The home streak, which fans had come to know over the last two and a half months, had been impressive. While amassing a 12-0-2 record since November 1, the Canucks allowed just 13 goals, while scoring 41 of their own at home. The opponents were shut out six times during the 14 games.
But the streak would not continue Friday night. It was an evening that would have been a special time to pull out a win, because the game featured two Canuck debuts: It was Kris Beech’s first game as a Canuck, and Curtis Sanford’s first start at GM Place as a Canuck.
Beech had a good performance, particularly in the first period, and finished the game with 11:58 of ice time, two shots, and was 63% (10-for-16) in the faceoff circle. Sanford played pretty well himself, turning aside 34 of 38 shots.
But despite a strong team performance in the first period that looked like the Canucks could push their home streak to 15 games, the Canucks couldn’t equal the Coyotes.
Statistically, it was a surprising game to end the streak on. That’s because another streak riding on this game predicted a win for the Canucks: Phoenix hadn’t won a game in Vancouver since Feb. 27, 2000.
It only took the Coyotes a small portion of a period to dash the hopes of extending the streak. They scored three goals in a span of 4:34, and the two that came at the end of the second period were especially hard to swallow because the Canucks got into penalty trouble.
When Ed Jovanovski caught Jeff Cowan with a big hit behind the Phoenix net, Cowan quickly got up from the collision, and a few seconds later hauled down Jovanovski with a glove to the face. He was assessed a double minor on the play. Shortly after, Alex Burrows was sent to the box for flipping the puck over the glass. That allowed the Coyotes scored to score two 5-on-3 goals 10 seconds apart, at 19:47 and 19:57 of the second.
“I’m pretty sure [Cowan] would be the first one to tell you that that penalty is not acceptable,” said Coach Alain Vigneault, who elected not to play the gritty forward for the rest of the game.
And he was right. “[Jovanovski] got me with a good hit. It was a pretty clean hit, and I just reacted in a bad way,” said Cowan. “It’s a bad penalty, a bad time in the game to take it, and I’ll just learn from that and try not to do it next time.”
The Canucks were able to make a game of it in the third, but weren’t able to claw back to tie it up. That’s the one streak that was kept intact: Vancouver has yet to win a game when trailing after two periods this season.
But even though the home streak we lived with for more than 70 days was snapped, it’s not completely over. One Canuck still holds a 12-0-2 record in his last 14 games at GM Place, and that’s Roberto Luongo
You can bet he’ll be eager to make his personal streak 15 next time he starts between the pipes here.