With one game remaining before the All-Star break, the Canucks waltzed into Phoenix tonight to play the hapless Coyotes, fresh off a victory against the last-place Avalanche the night before. What followed was one of the most collectively uninspired games in recent memory. Vancouver failed to register a shot on goal in the first period and failed to score a goal in the remaining two, ultimately losing 3-0.
With an excellent opportunity to consolidate their position in the Western Conference wild-card race, the Canucks instead came out flat. The Canucks would finish with only 19 shots on goal against the NHL’s 29th-place team. That, coupled with the Los Angeles Kings’ win against Carolina (coincidentally, also by a 3-0 margin), the Canucks again fell out of the playoff picture.
Somewhere, the Canucks are probably still waiting for the game to start. After registering a season-high 20 first period shots on goal the previous night in Denver, the Canucks managed an ignominious follow-up tonight. Vancouver recorded nary a shot on Arizona goalie Mike Smith in the opening frame, after the league rescinded an earlier Daniel Sedin attempt. The goose egg t tied a club record (obviously) for the fewest shots on goal in a period. The Canucks did direct 15 shot attempts towards the Arizona goal – compared to the Coyotes’ 19 – but by all metrics it was a very underwhelming first twenty minutes of play.
Vancouver would not register its first shot until nearly halfway through the game – and shorthanded, no less.
So, Burrows is credited with first shot at 8:12 of second period, a 122-foot shorthanded clear out of own zone. You can’t make this up.
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) January 27, 2017
The Canucks would kill off the penalty but surrender the game’s opening goal to Lawson Crouse a couple of minutes later.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) January 27, 2017
The Canucks finished the period with a flurry of chances, led by (surprise!) the Skille-Gaunce-Chaput unit, but could not even the score.
Sven Baertschi would take a double-minor for high-sticking early in the third, and the Coyotes’ Alex Burmistrov would bury a rebound home to make it 2-0.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) January 27, 2017
Burmistrov had not scored since March 13 of last year, also coming against Vancouver, in a Winnipeg Jets uniform.
The Canucks would rarely threaten the rest of the way, and Tobias Rieder would ice the game with an empty-net goal.
VAN@ARI: Rieder seals victory with empty-net goal https://t.co/F5VndUehX6
— NHL Goal Tracker (@NHLGoalTracker) January 27, 2017
Since NHL started tracking play-by-play in 2003 no team has gone as long as the #Canucks did tonight for their 1st shot on goal (28:12)
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 27, 2017
-The aforementioned Skille-Gaunce-Chaput line was by far the Canucks best tonight. Chaput and Gaunce were both +9 in the Corsi department, while Skille was an even more impressive +11. The trio ate the Jakob Chychrun-Connor Murphy defence pair alive late in the second period during the Canucks best stretch of sustained pressure on the night
-One of my favourite moments from the game came courtesy of Troy Stecher. Stecher had been buzzing in the Coyotes end and, after the losing the puck, he tracked down Christian Fischer in the neutral zone, stole the puck, turned around and rushed the puck back up the ice, and finished with a shot on Mike Smith. Great effort.
— Grady Sas (@GradySas) January 27, 2017
-Philip Larsen made his return to the line-up tonight after recovering from a concussion. He had a mostly unspectacular game paired with Nikita Tryamkin, finishing with a -1 Corsi. But glad to see him return to the ice after a devastating Taylor Hall hit that could have been far more damaging. Alex Biega drew out of the line-up.
-Curious decision of the night: With a minute left in the game, and Ryan Miller pulled for an extra attacker, the Canucks sixth skater was Michael Chaput. Yes, Chaput had himself a great night – even by fourth-line standards – but keeping Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Brandon Sutter, and Markus Granlund (the club’s leading goal-scorers) all on the bench was a bit of a head-scratcher. The Canucks maintain that their mandate is to make the playoffs, so why Desjardins didn’t put all his best options out on the ice while down two goals late is a little confusing.
-On the Coyotes side, former Canuck Radim Vrbata is having himself a nice bounce back season. He already has 34 points in 48 games, which constitutes seven more points in 15 fewer games. Not bad for a guy on a bargain $1 million contract. Perhaps it should not come as much of a surprise, however. Vrbata experienced a career-worst 5v5 team shooting percentage of 5.9% last year, well below his career average of 7.9%. This season, that mark is back up to 7.8% and he has the results to show for it.
-Was looking for a tweet that would sum up the game succinctly.
“We weren’t good enough, it’s that simple. I told the guys that after. This is a tough way to head into the break.” – Coach Desjardins
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 27, 2017
I think that works.
Thursday, February 2 vs San Jose Sharks. TV: SNET; Radio: TSN 1040