In a familiar story, the Vancouver Canucks couldn’t do much against the surprising New Jersey Devils, losing their seventh straight meeting to old friend Cory Schneider.
Well, the first two games of the Vancouver Canucks Eastern Conference road trip were fun. They escaped with convincing road wins against the high-flying Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, but had few answers for the New Jersey Devils.
Cory Schneider once again got the best of his old team, stopping 23 of 25 shots faced in a 3-2 Devils victory. With the win, Schneider moved to 6-1-2 against his former team, and helped his team keep pace with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the Metropolitan Division lead.
The Canucks didn’t do a lot right in this one. Jacob Markstrom was left hung out to dry too many times, but made 23 saves on 26 shots faced to keep his team in this one. Markstrom wasn’t at fault for any of the goals, as the defence was all-around sloppy despite seeing the returns of Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher.
It’s also not a good time for Canucks fans to check the standings. The Vegas Golden Knights just had to wait until overtime to defeat the San Jose Sharks, while the Los Angeles Kings also picked up a point.
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The Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars won their respective games, knocking the Canucks out of the wild card spot and on the outside looking in — though all three teams are tied with 25 points.
The Devils — known for their shutdown defensive system — didn’t leave much space in their own, and the Canucks just couldn’t enter their zone with any ease.
On the bright side, Vancouver continued its strong performance on the power play, going one-for-three as Horvat supplied a late tally in the third period.
There’s no shame in the Canucks losing this game. The Devils are among the top teams in the NHL right now, and it’s tough to win three consecutive road games — no matter the opponents. Vancouver’s already 2-1-0 on this road trip, so there’s no sense in beating themselves up with this loss.
The Canucks are now our points behind the Golden Knights for first in the Pacific Division, but the 31st NHL team is bound to regress soon enough. With the Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers slumping, Vancouver will be in prime position to gain some ground in the tight playoff race.
That is, if they can put this frustrating loss against New Jersey behind them. They’ll have the chance to redeem themselves when they visit old pal Alain Vigneault and the New York Rangers on Sunday.