Another day, another failed comeback attempt for the Vancouver Canucks.
After falling to the St. Louis Blues just 48 hours earlier, the team was desperate to finish their mini two-game homestand on a winning note, facing off against Jack Eichel and the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday night.
Historically speaking, the Canucks have not faired well against the Golden Knights, having only secured five points in their last 11 meetings dating back to 2017-18. The team has also failed to come away with a regulation win in their past five outings, being outscored 25-16 in the process.
As was the case for the entire month of March, this was an extremely crucial game for the Canucks and their playoff implications. Following Friday night’s loss, the Canucks sat eight points back of the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference, sporting a record of 32-28-9 in 69 games played.
Vegas, on the other hand, found themselves in a slightly better position than their opponent, just one point back of the Dallas Stars for the final playoff position in the West, but still needed all the help they could get given their small handful of remaining games on the schedule.
Dickinson, who slotted on the third line with Juho Lammikko and Will Lockwood, had been sidelined all of March with an undisclosed injury, while Poolman, who missed 26 games due to lingering migraine symptoms, found himself on the third pairing with Travis Dermott.
The team also welcomed back assistant coach Scott Walker for the first time in over two months.
Walker, who was brought on back in December to help fix the dreadful penalty kill, was sidelined with vertigo symptoms after being struck with a puck during Vancouver’s game in Florida back on January 21st.
As we’ve seen far too many times this season, the Canucks stumbled out of the gate to start the first period, surrendering the first powerplay of the game in the opening minute.
Vegas only managed to register two shots on the man advantage, which had gone 0/6 in their past three games, but were still able to apply the pressure afterwards, outshooting the Canucks by a wide margin of 9-1 leading up to the first commercial break.
Vegas was rewarded for their efforts upon return to play, with blueliner Alex Pietrangelo wiring a shot past the shoulder of Thatcher Demko to open the scoring for the away team.
The Canucks did show small signs of life on the next play after Bo Horvat stripped the puck from ex-Canuck Ben Hutton in the neutral zone, but the captain wasn’t able to muster up a quality scoring chance against Robin Lehner, who was also returning from injury.
Vancouver’s poor first period continued on a few minutes later, this time at the hands of Poolman.
After turning the puck over at centre, the former Winnipeg Jet found himself extremely out of position, allowing Jonathan Marchessault to enter the offensive zone with ease before burying his 27th tally of the year.
Marchessault has been a Canuck killer since joining the Golden Knights, putting up points in 12 of his 13 career games against Vancouver, and the streak continued on Sunday night.
Vegas was given one more opportunity to build on their impressive first period, thanks to a four-minute high sticking penalty from Elias Pettersson in the last five minutes.
Vancouver did manage to kill off the entire powerplay, with the shorthanded units even creating a few opportunities of their own, but still went into the first intermission down a pair of goals.
Shots were 14-6 after the first 20 minutes of play.
Despite their sheer desperation for wins at this point in the year, the Canucks still didn’t come out with much urgency to start the second period.
The team was just inches away from going down 3-0 in the game but, like we’ve seen too many times this year, were bailed out by Demko between the pipes, this time robbing Nicolas Roy with a big pad save in the opening minute of the period.
The Canucks finally decided to wake up after that close-call from Vegas, bringing their shot total up to nine by the halfway mark of the period, highlighted by a strong shift from Lammikko, Alex Chiasson and Nic Petan.
Vancouver was eventually rewarded for their pressure, receiving their first man advantage of the night from a rather unlucky delay of game penalty against Vegas.
The powerplay units were able to set up in the offensive zone quite quickly, turning their sustained pressure into quality scoring opportunities, but were once again foiled by Lehner, who remained perfect after 40 minutes.
The Canucks also appeared to face some injury trouble right before the second intermission with Brock Boeser.
After taking the brunt end of Pettersson’s hit on Hutton, Boeser was seen noticeably favouring his right arm, forcing him to immediately go to the dressing room on the play.
Fortunately for the team, Boeser’s injury wasn’t as bad as it appeared, as the 25-year-old winger was right back onto the bench for the final frame.
Unfortunately, however, the Canucks didn’t have much luck on the blueline, as it was announced that Poolman would not return after exiting the game early in the middle frame, leaving head coach Bruce Boudreau with just five defencemen for most of the night.
Despite the slightly limited personnel, he Canucks came out much more energetic to start the third period, applying strong pressure in the offensive zone.
After Oliver Ekman-Larsson had his shot blocked from the point, the veteran blueliner managed to retrieve the puck near the top of the circle before firing a pass over to J.T. Miller in the slot to cut the lead down to one.
This marked Miller’s 200th point as a Canuck since joining the team in 2019-20 but, more importantly, finally gave the home crowd something to cheer about.
The momentum continued to swing in Vancouver’s favour, with the home team receiving a massive powerplay opportunity with just over 10 minutes left in the game.
The first unit stayed out for most of the man advantage, registering two shots and generating strong puck movement, while also forcing Vegas to take another delay of game penalty in the process.
With just two seconds on the clock for their two-man advantage, Horvat once again lined up in the faceoff circle. Horvat had been extremely dominant in the dot up until this point, winning 11 of 13 draw opportunities, and was looking to come out on top against William Karlsson.
The captain did end up losing the draw, just the third defeat of the night for him, but was still credited with the game-tying goal, thanks to an Alec Martinez deflection that snuck through Lehner in extremely bizarre fashion.
Both teams exchanged chances in final 10 minutes, with Vancouver looking like the stronger club towards the end. The game appeared to be all but over in the dying seconds for the Canucks, with the puck finding its way to Tyler Myers alone in front of the net, but the big man shot it well wide to send the game to the extra frame.
As expected, neither team sat back to kick off overtime, desperately looking for the win.
The Canucks were able apply good pressure at the beginning, but were eventually bitten by too much fancy footwork and overall poor positioning en route to Shea Theodore’s game-winning goal.
With the loss, Vancouver’s sudden death record fell to 3-7 on the year, including four straight overtime defeats.
The Canucks also still find themselves eight points back of the final wild card spot, now occupied by Vegas. Mathematically, the team still hasn’t been eliminated from the postseason, but will essentially need to go on a perfect run for their remaining 12 games of the season to have any hope of a playoff appearance.
Vancouver will round out their home-and-home set with Vegas on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST.
What are your thoughts from Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Vegas? Let us know in the comments!