For the fifth straight game the Canucks spotted their opposition a pair of goals right off the bat and despite battling back to even the game at 2-2, Taylor Pyatt scored his second goal of the night early in the third period as the Phoenix Coyotes beat Vancouver 3-2 Sunday evening.
Scott Upshall had the other Coyotes goal, while Christian Ehrhoff and Tanner Glass scored for the Canucks, who have dropped four consecutive games since winning eight of nine.
“It’s tough to win games in this league and it’s even tougher when you spot teams two goals,” said Ryan Kesler. “It’s inexcusable. We played really well in the first and the first means nothing if you come out like that in the second. I don’t know, we need to figure this out quick.”
After a scoreless opening period in which Vancouver controlled the play and spent the majority of the frame in Phoenix’s end, yet came away with nothing to show for it, the Canucks and Coyotes entered the second scoreless.
Upshall broke the 0-0 tie 2:22 into the second when he got position on Andrew Alberts in front of the Vancouver net and snapped home a rebound off a Nolan Yonkman shot.
The Coyotes took a 2-0 lead and knocked the wind out of the fans at Rogers Arena less than four minutes later when Pyatt got a hold of the puck in the slot and ripped it past Roberto Luongo.
Mason Raymond helped the Canucks respond in style as he sent a backpass from behind the Coyotes net to Ehrhoff out front midway through the period; a blast from Ehrhoff later and the Phoenix lead was down to 2-1.
Vancouver’s fourth line completed the comeback and put the game back on even terms with under six minutes to play in the second when Peter Schaefer slide a pass to Glass on the rush that the forward directed past Ilya Bryzgalov.
In the third, the Canucks were outplayed and outshot 13-7 with Pyatt scoring the game-winner 5:52 in when he deflected a Keith Yandle shot through Luongo.
The end result wasn't as gruesome as Saturday night’s loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, but Vancouver failed to respond from that effort the way it had envisioned.
“I don’t know what the case was, we wanted to come out tonight and prove that we’re way better than we were the previous night against Chicago,” said Raymond. “I thought we had some good chances, some good opportunities and we didn’t crash hard enough I guess and the outcome just didn’t go our way.”
For Raymond and linemates Kesler and Alex Burrows, it was a second straight maddening effort. The trio combined for two assists and a plus-2 rating against Phoenix, but failed to find the back of the net for the fourth time in as many games.
“That’s all part of hockey, it is frustrating,” said Raymond. “I know personally I’ve had some games where I’m not so good and others that have been better and I think a big part is just being consistent night in and night out.
“It’s tough, you want to be contributing every night as a line and helping out our team every way we can and when we’re not going as a line, it’s obviously effecting our team play.”
Back to the drawing board for the Canucks, who now sport a 10-7-3 record having fallen to second in the Northwest Division, two points back of the Colorado Avalanche, at the quarter point of the season.
Vancouver isn’t panicking and neither is coach Alain Vigneault. The wins will come and it all starts with opening the scoring. The Canucks are 8-1-1 when hiting the scoreboard first.
“In this league it seems that one of the stats that stands out is the team that scores first usually has a better chance of winning and lately we haven’t been able to score first,” said Vigneault.
“Tonight guys were ready to come out, they played hard, played hard the whole way through and we’re having a tough time right now finishing and finding the back of the net. We’ve got a good core group and we’re going to keep working hard and battle our way through it.”
For the first time this season Daniel and Henrik Sedin have both been held pointless in back-to-back games; the Canucks have played 244:37 of consecutive hockey without a lead; after opening the year 7-0-1 when not allowing a first period goal, the Canucks have dropped two straight.