It’s hard to be a Vancouver Canucks fan these days.
After securing their second consecutive win against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night, the team wrapped up their mini two-game home stand on Monday, facing off against Jack Eichel and the Vegas Golden Knights.
To even the average hockey fan, this match-up seemed skewed from the get-go.
Vegas entered this contest as one of the NHL’s hottest clubs, boasting a record of 14-4-1 that catapulted them to the top of the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. Meanwhile, their opponent was barely scraping by, showcasing a myriad of on-ice deficiencies on a nightly basis that placed them in the league basement.
Despite the differences, Vancouver still managed to keep up with the powerhouse Golden Knights to kick off the contest, holding them off of the scoresheet in the opening 20 minutes.
To many’s surprise, the Canucks even managed to create their own offence, an accomplishment that a handful of teams have struggled with against Vegas this season.
The Canucks were able to notch four goals in the final 40 minutes which, for most teams, would be more than enough to secure the two points.
However, like we’ve seen far too often this year (seven painful times, to be exact), Vancouver somehow found a way to erase their lead, opening the door for their opponents to stomp all over them en route to yet another disappointing finish.
What’s even worse about Monday night’s loss is that the Canucks found a way to give up their lead twice. Yes, you read that right. Twice.
Let’s start with the first blown lead.
After Andrei Kuzmenko opened the scoring in the second period with his eight goal of the season, Vancouver wasn’t able to maintain any sort of offensive pressure or forecheck.
As a result, Vegas found a way to easily swing the momentum back in their favour, thanks to two quick strikes from Mark Stone and William Carrier just 49 seconds apart.
The second blown lead was even worse.
Despite entering the final frame down a goal, which is usually one of the main ingredients needed for a Vancouver loss, the home team still came out with guns blazing, with Bo Horvat, Luke Schenn and Elias Pettersson providing the offence to help create the surprising two-goal cushion.
However, just like clockwork, the Canucks somehow found a way to watch their third period lead once again disappear, with blueliner Alex Pietrangelo eventually notching the game-winning goal with just over five minutes left in the third period.
It also only took Vegas two minutes and 45 seconds to respond and tie the contest up at 4-4, once again proving that Vancouver’s opponents don’t need much time at all to take advantage of their glaring weaknesses.
Don’t get us wrong, there were some positives to come out of Monday night’s effort.
As mentioned above, Pettersson was once again all over the ice for the full 60 minutes, producing quality offensive and defensive plays, much like the one below in the dying moments, while also notching his 10th goal of the season in the process.
Quinn Hughes and Kuzmenko also found their way back onto the scoresheet, with both players notching two points apiece for the second consecutive night.
Schenn continued to be one of the team’s most consistent players and leaders, notching one goal, three hits and two blocked shots in just under 17 minutes of ice time.
Even Thatcher Demko looked like vintage Demko, making a handful of key saves to help keep Vegas at bay, even if it was just for the first two periods.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the Canucks once again showed us why they’re so far away from being a legitimate, contending team in the National Hockey League, and it’s hopefully only a matter of time until ownership and management realizes this, too.
With the loss, Vancouver’s record fell to 6-10-3, and their 15 points are “good” enough for seventh in Pacific Division and fifth worst in the entire league. Ouch.
The Canucks are back in action on Wednesday night, taking on the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST.
What are your thoughts from Monday night’s 5-4 loss? Let us know in the comments!