The Canucks hosted hockey's most historic franchise on Saturday night and they recreated one of hockey's most iconic moments in the defeat.
Lars Eller's shorthanded goal with 4:48 left in the second period stood up as the game-winner as the Canadiens handed the Canucks a 4-1 loss in front of a split crowd at Rogers Arena.
Eller, however, had little to do with the goal that would ultimately hand the Canucks their second straight loss.
With the game knotted a 1-1 and the Canucks enjoying a power play, Dan Hamhuis' errant breakout pass from behind his own goal line banked off the skate of netminder Roberto Luongo and into the Vancouver cage to help Montreal restore their one-goal lead.
The play was eerily reminiscent of the gaffe made by rookie defenceman Steve Smith of the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the 1986 Smythe Division Final when his attempted outlet pass banked off netminder Grant Fuhr in a game against Calgary that the Flames would ultimately go on to win 3-2.
Tomas Plekanec and Josh Gorges would add insurance markers in the third period to put the game out of reach. Max Pacioretti opened the scoring in the first period while Canucks' captain Henrik Sedin responded in the second period with his first goal of the season and 799th point of his NHL career.
The Canucks probably felt they deserved a better result on this night after peppering Habs' goaltender Carey Price with 40 shots but they were stymied time and again by the B.C. native who finished the night with 39 saves, including all 11 he faced on Vancouver's three power plays where the Canucks had their best opportunities.
At the other end, Luongo delivered a solid performance keeping his team in the contest until Montreal opened the floodgates in the final stanza – a period in which they out-shot the Canucks 18-9.
He finished the night with 34 saves on 38 shots in the loss.
The Canucks, who now sit 3-3-0 on the season, hit the road for the seven straight games beginning on Tuesday when they face the Philadelphia Flyers.
THE CATCH-UP GAME: If you can't remember the last time the Canucks held a lead in a game, you're probably not alone. After tonight's contest, the Canucks have now gone a whopping 185:54 in game time without playing with a lead. Their last lead was in the third period of their overtime win in Calgary last Sunday.
SHOOTING FOR A RECORD: Jason Garrison nearly turned in a historic performance of his own on Saturday. The Canucks D-man had nine shots through two periods and, for a while, looked like he might have a chance at eclipsing the franchise record for most shots by a player in a single game of 13. He would only manage one shot in the third to finish with 10 on the night – double more than the next leading player on either team. The franchise record is shared by Pavel Bure, Russ Courtnalll and Trevor Linden.
A RARE ONE-ON-ONE: In the first 118 head-to-head meetings between the Canucks and Canadiens, there had only been one penalty shot awarded to either team. That was until Max Pacioretti was handed a penalty shot in the third period of Saturday's 119th head-to-head game between the clubs which Luongo managed to turn aside. Vancouver netminder Corey Hirsch stopped Montreal forward Martin Rucinsky on a penalty shot back on January 2, 1999 in the first penalty shot involving a game between the Canucks and Habs. Luongo has stopped 19 of 22 penalty shots in his career.
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