The Vancouver Canucks fell to the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime Tuesday night in Denver at the Pepsi Center thanks to a two-goal outing from David Jones, who scored the game-winner on the power play 2:52 into extra time.
John-Michael Liles and Milan Hejduk had the other Avalanche goals and Craig Anderson thwarted 40 Canucks shots in the win; for Vancouver Alex Edler, Ryan Kesler and Sergei Shirokov scored, while Roberto Luongo made 26 saves.
Shirokov’s second period tally, which saw him steal the puck from Ryan Wilson footsteps from the Colorado crease before giving Anderson some slick moves and sliding the puck five-hold, was the first of his NHL career and it came in his first game since being recalled from Manitoba on Monday.
Shirokov’s goal restored a one-goal Vancouver lead, which the team had relinquished twice in the game already, but it was short-lived as Colorado responded one minute and three seconds later to leave the game deadlocked at 3-3 going into the third.
Although the Canucks outshot the Avalanche 12-5 over the final 20 minutes, it took overtime to decide this Northwest Division clash and with Colorado having already found the back of the net on two of four power plays, it was only fitting the golden goal be scored the same way.
With Henrik Sedin in the penalty box for interference, Jones unearthed a loose puck in the Canucks crease and slid it past Luongo.
“The guy was walking in so I had to honour him and I committed and they slid it across and I was able to get the toe on it, but somehow, I don’t know if he swept it in or something, but it was kind of a weird goal,” said Luongo. “It’s tough to kill a 4-on-3 there, we almost had it but we fell a bit short.”
The Canucks fall short on their goal of capping off their five-game road trip with a win, but a 2-2-1 record is nothing to dismiss with the team far from playing their best hockey in 2011.
Vancouver returns home having won two of five games and collecting five of a possible 10 points; overall the Canucks remain atop the NHL standings with points in 36 of 46 games this season.
“It would have felt better to win tonight for sure, we got five points, it’s not great, it’s not bad, but we haven’t played our best hockey so getting five points, we’ll take it with the way we’ve been playing,” assessed Henrik Sedin.
Coach Alain Vigneault seconded that opinion saying the Canucks were competitive enough to win in four of five games on the trip.
“Except for the Minnesota game where I think our energy level caught up a little bit to us with the number of games that we’ve played lately, I thought all the other four places that we went to we battled real hard.
“Obviously we expect more from ourselves than a .500 road trip, but you also have to look at the process and how our guys competed and from that standpoint of how we played and our competitiveness, I was real happy about that.”
Chris Tanev more than held his own in his first taste of NHL action.
The 21-year-old Toronto-product, called up late last week with injuries to Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts droping the Canucks to a mere five defencemen, was hardly noticeable in Vancouver’s 4-3 loss in Colorado, meaning he performed his role to perfection.
Skating alongside Keith Ballard, Tanev, wearing number 18, was a minus-1 in 12:49 of ice time during 22 shifts with one shot on goal.
“I felt good,” said Tanev, post-game. “It was good to get the first one under my belt, it’s something I’ll never forget. Ballard was a great partner tonight, he helped me a lot and I appreciate it a lot.
“I was a little nervous, I think I was most nervous in warm-up to be honest, but after the first shift I was alright. Ballard kept the mood light, he kept talking to me on the ice and he really helped me out.”
Late in the third period with the game on the line, Tanev faced his tallest task of the night when three Avalanche skaters came at him on a 3-on-1. Not backing down, Tanev took away the pass and despite ending up on his backside, he prevented a goal and in the process earned the Canucks a single point by forcing overtime.
“I was just lucky that it hit my skate. I just tried to stay in the middle and take the pass away because I know Luongo can stop that shot. It just hit my skate or stick, I don’t know, and I fell.”
Not all plays can be Sedin graceful.
Sergei Shirokov had 13:09 of ice time on 17 shifts recording one goal and a plus-1 rating in his Canucks season debut; dating back to last season, the Canucks had won four straight games at the Pepsi Center; historically, Colorado has outscored Vancouver 241 to 208 when playing at home.