Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from shootout loss to Rangers

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: Jake Virtanen
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: Jake Virtanen /

The Vancouver Canucks had plenty of chances to put the game away, but the resiliency of the New York Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist were too much to overcome in a 4-3 shootout loss.

There are moral losses, and then there is the Vancouver Canucks latest loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday — a 4-3 decision that was decided by a shootout.

Instead of leaving Madison Square Garden with their third road win in four games, the Canucks coughed up a pair of third period leads and scored on just two of seven shootout attempts. When all was said and done, it was former Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault and his Blueshirts who walked away with the two points.

The Canucks got the one point, which helped them move into the eighth seed in the Western Conference — and just five back of the Vegas Golden Knights for tops in the Pacific Division. But this was a game where they simply should have had the two.

Vancouver’s lengthy road trip has just two more games, with the New York Islanders next on the schedule for Tuesday. While we wait for that, here are three takeaways from Vancouver’s loss to the Rangers.

Loui Eriksson stays hot

He’s not quite playing like $6 million per season player, but Loui Eriksson is finally making an impact in Vancouver. Eriksson is a huge reason why the Canucks have been largely successful on the road trip thus far.

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He scored the team’s first goal, and now has six points in his last five games. Eriksson is now up to eight points in 12 games on the season.

Eriksson’s puck possession numbers are done, and his defensive game isn’t as strong as it used to be. But the man has finally regained his scoring touch, and will have plenty of chances to be a key part of their top-six moving forward.

Eriksson has been able to perform well with different linemates throughout the season, and you can see how much more confidence he is this season compared to last. We knew 2017-18 couldn’t be as bad as 2016-17, and Eriksson has finally turned a corner.

The Canucks can only hope that Eriksson isn’t only on a hot streak, but will be consistent with his recent performance.

Shootout slumping

Thankfully, the Canucks have only had to appear in two shootouts thus far. No offence, but this team isn’t really that good when it comes to the skills competition.

Vancouver went two-for-seven on shootout attempts, with Brock Boeser and Sven Baertschi providing the only goals. Their Oct. 10 loss to the Ottawa Senators saw Vancouver convert on just one of five shootout attempts, too.

It’s purely luck, so why are the Canucks always on the wrong side? Well, Jake Virtanen and that lethal release of a shot deserved a chance in the shootout, at least more than low-scoring defenceman Ben Hutton.

Canucks shooters are just three-for-12 in shootout attempts this season. At least all of their wins have been in overtime or regulation, which is the first tie-breaking procedure in the NHL.

Third period woes continue

The best teams usually have excellent records when leading after two periods. But the Canucks have had plenty of problems holding any leads they carry in the third period. This was the second time in eight days where they blew a third period lead and wound up with only a loser’s point.

Vancouver also led the Detroit Red Wings escape Rogers Arena with a 3-2 regulation win back on Nov. 6, thanks to sloppy play in the defensive end. The Canucks also blew a third period lead to the Ottawa Senators back on Oct. 10.

Throw in last week’s overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues and this debacle to the Rangers, and that’s at least four simple points Vancouver let slip through their fingers.

There are too many veterans on this team for the rookie mistakes to happen in the third period. Vancouver has shown they have the talent to make the playoffs, but losing games like this can add up and determine whether or not you make the postseason.

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They’re going to have to find ways to hold onto their third period leads, or at least win beyond regulation. They’re 0-4 in games that head into overtime/shootouts, so that has to change if they want to be a playoff team.