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Too Little, Too Late

by Kyle Harland / Vancouver Canucks
You can always count on the Canucks to make it exciting in the third period. The trouble is, you can’t always count on them to win.

It was a familiar scene when Alexander Edler scored with just 25 seconds left on the clock against the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night.

Lately the Canucks have had lots of exciting third period tallies. Unfortunately, they always seem to score then when they’re down by two goals.

In four of the Canucks’ last five games, they have scored a goal in the final five minutes of the third period.

Every time they’ve done that they have been trailing by two goals, only able to pull themselves within one. It’s just enough to take one last hopeful breath of air before surrendering a loss, and all four of those games were losses.

Naslund did it Tuesday against the Dallas with 1:21 left in the game. Stars won 4-3. Pyatt did it Jan. 21 against Minnesota with 0:29 on the clock. Wild won 4-2 (they scored an empty netter seven seconds later).

Raymond did it Jan. 19 against Los Angeles with 4:19 left. Kings won 4-3. And Thursday night Edler joined the “too little, too late” group, scoring his team’s third goal of the contest before falling to a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay 25 seconds later.

In all of those games the Canucks have made the final minutes of the game thrilling as they claw back from behind.

But it’s not just the goals they score in the final few minutes that make it electrifying. It’s the grand chances they are able to generate as well.

It’s too bad the Canucks can’t climb the NHL standings simply by generating excitement in the final frame. If that were the case, they’d be at the top of the conference. But apparently you need something called a “win” to get a pair of points, and that hasn’t happened in any of the near-comeback games.

Perhaps Dave Nonis could lobby the league to see if they could extend the third period, making it 25:00 long. But that rule change probably wouldn’t fly.

A longer third would suit the Canucks pretty well. It has been the Canucks’ favourite period this year, as they score the most goals and give up the fewest in the final 20 minutes when compared with their other periods.

When the third period has been “extended” into overtime, they’ve won two games and lost none (nine have gone to a shootout).

Much has been made about the Canucks inability to stage a third period comeback. There’s certainly validity to that, since after Thursday’s game Vancouver has a 1-19-1 record when trailing after two periods.

It was also the fifth game in a row that the Canucks have had the smaller number on the scoreboard entering the third period, a dangerous streak to be on considering that record.

But strangely enough, over those same five games, they have shown that they could do a pretty good job of making a late charge and coming back from a deficit – providing they’re not down by more than a goal.   

4 – fights in the game

5 – game point streak for Danny Sedin, who collected his sixth assist over that span against Tampa

5 – consecutive games the Canucks have trailed after two periods

6 – hits by Matt Cooke, leading all players

9.5 – years since the Lightning have beat the Canucks

Unlike the last few games, it might be hard to argue that the Canucks offense outplayed their opposition. Vancouver did get unlucky with the post a few times, but with young backup Karri Ramo in between those posts, they should have been able to capitalize more often.

Played exceptionally well considering four mainstays on the blueline were in the infirmary. The four goals against aren’t quite indicative of the Canucks defensive play.

The Lightning went 1-for-2 on the power play, but it wasn’t for the Canucks lack of positioning. They were unlucky as a pass went off Mike Weaver’s skate into the net.

The Canucks power play finally capitalized to finish 1-for-4, but not until the final minute of the game when Edler scored from the blue line.
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