Canucks’ collapse against Predators showcases highs, lows of the season

Nov 5, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Nashville Predators defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (3) and Vancouver Canucks forward Dakota Joshua (81) vie for the puck during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Nashville Predators defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (3) and Vancouver Canucks forward Dakota Joshua (81) vie for the puck during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Remember, remember the 5th of November? The Vancouver Canucks will want to forget about this one, as they blew another two-goal lead and eventually lost 4-3 to the Nashville Predators in a shootout.

This game told the story of two very different efforts.

In the second intermission, Kevin Bieksa commended Vancouver’s play, citing their extra level of urgency in blocking shots, standing up for one another and peppering Predators’ goalie Juuse Saros with shots.

But, in the third period, the Canucks fell apart, blowing their 3-1 lead in the first three minutes. In the end, they salvaged one point out of a game they once led by three goals – reminiscent of games early in the season when they consistently blew third-period leads en route to defeat.

This was a game the Canucks had to win, with both teams feeling extra gritchy – and Saros entering the game with a 1-5-1 record since the season opener.

Early on, Vancouver appeared to continue their offensive momentum from Thursday night’s eight-goal outburst against the Anaheim Ducks. Outshooting Nashville 12-3 in the opening frame, the Canucks took an early, commanding 3-0 lead.

Ilya Mikheyev set the tone just 1:56 into the game, beating Saros with a harmless-looking wrist shot that whizzed by the Nashville netminder between his left pad and glove. Mikheyev only had one assist in Thursday’s game, while his linemates Andrei Kuzmenko and Elias Pettersson had four and five, respectively.

It wasn’t the prettiest goal, but a good start for both Mikheyev and the Canucks nonetheless.

Vancouver added to their lead shortly afterwards as J.T. Miller was gifted a rebound from Saros off a Nils Höglander shot. Only 3:41 into the game, the Canucks were already up 2-0 and had one of the National Hockey League’s best goalies on his heels.

And they kept pressing.

Sheldon Dries nearly fired home another rebound kicked up the middle by Saros. The Canucks had lots of scoring chances, and were more defensively responsible early in the game.

It was refreshing to see Ethan Bear make a positive impact in the Canucks’ defensive end. He showed the value he brings to the Canucks’ blue line with an extra-effort blocked shot on a Matt Duchene powerplay opportunity.

After Miller failed to score on a breakaway, and frustration among Nashville players started to boil over, Kuzmenko scored a tap-in, which has become a trademark goal for the Russian as Predators’ defenceman Ryan McDonagh failed to tie up his stick.

As “Bruce, There It Is” chants filled Rogers Arena following the third goal, commentator John Shorthouse commented that it was that kind of period for the home team.

The second period saw the Canucks continue to dominate the Predators in shots, though Saros held Vancouver off the scoresheet for the remainder of the game.

Predators’ defenceman Jordan Gross scored his first two NHL goals in the contest in Nashville’s comeback effort, which was capped off by two goals in the first 2:41 of the third period, stunning the crowd.

As Riley Stillman and Conor Garland ran into each other by the Canucks net, and Tyler Myers failed to cover his man, Nino Niederreiter tied the game at three.

At this point, the narrative that had haunted the Canucks through their first few games of the season came flooding back: a multi-goal lead blown in the third period.

Yes, the Canucks were able to salvage one point as the game was eventually decided in a shootout, but it shouldn’t have gotten to that point.

Miller missed three breakaways this game, the Canucks badly outshot and outplayed Nashville through the first two periods, and – although briefly – showed the level of compete that Bieksa said was indicative of the 2011 team’s success.

The Canucks can be an offensive force when called upon, but they’re a bigger defensive liability, and this is evident in their inability to hold leads and close out games this season.

Some bad luck may be to blame for the shootout performance, as Pettersson’s signature one-handed move just rolled wide of the net, and Bo Horvat lost the puck when he needed to score to keep the Canucks alive.

In the end, the Canucks lost 4-3 in a shootout, ending the momentum of any inspiration from Bieksa’s locker room address on Thursday and Horvat’s three-game multi-goal streak.

The Canucks will now head to the nation’s capital as they take on the Ottawa Senators in the first of a five-game road trip this Tuesday. This game will also be the team’s first against former Canuck Tyler Motte, who was dealt at last year’s trade deadline.

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What were your thoughts from Saturday’s shootout loss against Nashville? Let us know in the comments!