The Canucks were blanked with the man advantage going 0-for-5 in a 3-1 loss to the Penguins Wednesday night at the Consol Energy Center as Vancouver wrapped up a five-game road trip.
Sidney Crosby, Maxime Talbot and Arron Asham scored for the Penguins and Marc-Andrew Fleury stopped 29 of 30 shots; Dan Hamhuis picked up the lone goal fo rhte Canucks, while Roberto Luongo made 26 saves.
The loss drops Vancouver’s record to 2-2-1 to finish its eastern swing, which Luongo and company are disappointed with.
”We can’t be satisfied with playing .500 hockey on the road,” said Luongo. “We want to be able to come out of road trips on the positive side, so it’s a little bit disappointing to go .500 here.
”I don’t Pittsburgh did anything special,” added Luongo, “I think they just really capitalized on some of the mistakes we made and it was too late after that.”
With the Canucks sporting a 6-2-3 record when scoring a power play goal, the easiest way to at least a single point was making the Penguins pay for their five minors, including back-to-back penalties to Mike Rupp in the second, but Vancouver managed only eight shots and couldn’t convert any of them.
To make matters worse, Pittsburgh’s game-winning goal was scored shorthanded by Talbot. In on a 2-on-1, Talbot opted to shoot and off the Luongo rebound, the puck ricocheted off Ryan Kesler’s skate and right back to Talbot, who wrapped it around the goal and put it in.
That about sums up Vancouver’s first loss in Pittsburgh since a 3-0 defeat on February 14, 2000 and yes, that was back when Jaromir Jagr was a Penguin, he even scored in that win.
Vancouver’s second straight loss began with the Canucks giving up the first goal of the game for the fourth time in five outings, and to whom else but Sidney Crosby.
The second Crosby stepped out of the penalty box after serving a holding penalty late in the first, Talbot hit him with a perfect pass that sent him in on a breakaway against Luongo. It wasn’t a penalty shot and it wasn’t in overtime like the last time sniper and stopper collided during a one-on-one battle, but it lived up to the excitement for the Penguins as Crosby scored low blocker side to put Pittsburgh up 1-0.
“For some reason I kind of saw it coming,” said Luongo. “When he was coming down on me I wasn’t exactly sure which move he was going to use and he keeps the puck right in front of him so he doesn’t give anything away and then he quick snaps it. I almost thought he was going five-hole there and that’s probably one of the hardest shots to save on a breakaway.”
The route appeared to be on midway through the second as Talbot scored shorthanded and Asham converted during a scramble in the Vancouver crease to put Pittsburgh up 3-0.
Vancouver responded by finally getting to Fleury 34 seconds after the Asham goal. On a furious Canucks rush into the Penguins zone by Alex Burrows, he set-up Daniel Sedin, who tried to set-up Henrik Sedin, who set-up Hamhuis for a tap-in goal, his second of the season.
That was all the offence the Canucks could muster as they failed to score at least two goals for the fifth time this season.
Sidney Crosby may have gotten the best of Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks on this night, but the Stanley Cup champion and Olympics gold medalist isn’t accustomed to it.
This was just Crosby’s fifth career game against the Canucks and including his first period breakaway goal, he now has a grand total of two versus Vancouver, his second lowest output against any team.
Crosby’s play has been less than stellar against the Canucks as he also sports a minus-5 career rating, his second lowest career rating versus anyone in the NHL.
A major reason for the Canucks keeping Sid the Kid under wraps has been Ryan Kesler, the man assigned to stop Crosby of late.
“He’s such a skilled player, it’s tough,” said Kesler of the assignment. “Every night it’s a tough job so I just try to keep it simple and just play him hard, that’s the only way. You’re going to work hard against him and try to force him into turnovers.”
Crosby’s goal against Vancouver gave him seven goals and 14 points in his last seven games; he’s now one point back of Steven Stamkos for the league lead in points with 29.
In his return to the Vancouver line-up, Keith Ballard played 14:13 during 22 shifts recording a plus-1 rating with two shots, two hits and a blocked shot; the Canucks had won four straight games in Pittsburgh coming into this contest; Vancouver’s 0-for-5 night on the power play bumped the Canucks down to second in the NHL for power play percentage at 27.1 per cent.