Vancouver Canucks: Third period struggles hurt the playoff push

The Vancouver Canucks blew another third period lead on Friday, and losses like this are a key reason why they’ll miss out on the postseason.

Even though the Vancouver Canucks are essentially out of the playoff race, it was hard not be disappointed over Friday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Sure, Jacob Markstrom had another phenomenal game, while rookie Elias Pettersson broke his slump with a goal. He even added the Peter Forsberg shootout special to the library of his rookie highlight reels.

But the Canucks had a very winnable game here against a struggling New Jersey Devils team that had dropped seven of its last nine. Vancouver took a 2-0 lead into the third period, but they gave up a pair of goals and wound up losing in a shootout. And if Markstrom hadn’t stayed on his head in the final stages of third period, the Canucks could have wound up with zero points.

Entering play on Saturday, the Canucks stood nine points behind the Arizona Coyotes for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Obviously, injuries and a lack of production from some key players have hurt Vancouver’s postseason chances.

But you can also look back on the many points this team left on the board throughout the season. According to Hockey Reference, the Canucks are 16-2-4 when leading after 40 minutes this year. Now, you obviously don’t expect teams to retain every third period lead, but that is eight points right there the Canucks have lost on.

Even picking up five of those points would have them in the playoff race. Also, the Canucks are a respectable 9-5-2 when tied after 40, but again, that’s still 12 points they missed out on. You add up all the points lost throughout the season, and you see why they’re out of the playoff race.

In comparison, the eighth-seeded Coyotes are a remarkable 27-1-1 when leading after two this season, and they’ve won three games plus three overtime/shootout losses when trailing after 40. Those points add up overtime, and it’s why they’ve built a comfortable cushion on their playoff hopefuls like the Canucks.

You can blame injuries, special teams woe, porous defensive play and the lack of secondary scoring. But really, Vancouver’s inability to close out some key games in the third period is what ultimately destroyed their chances of ending a four-year playoff drought.

Next: Vancouver Canucks: The Impact of Antoine Roussel

In the offseason, general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green will have to work around fixing the system while finding a couple of players that can help them put these games away.

Load Comments