If the Canucks intend to keep pace in the race for a playoff spot they'll need to find a way to start stringing together some victories. Unfortunately they'll have to start from scratch once again when they take to the ice on Sunday for the Heritage Classic.
Looking to build off a 1-0 win two nights ago over the Blues, the Canucks instead took a half step backwards on Friday dropping a 2-1 shootout decision to the Minnesota Wild at Rogers Arena.
Zach Parise scored the lone goal for the Wild in regulation while Justin Fontaine tallied the only marker in the seven-round shootout to lift Minnesota to a victory in a game in which they never led and, in all honestly, probably did not deserve to come away with two points in.
Ryan Kesler had the lone goal for the Canucks, who skated off the ice as losing team for the eighth time in their last nine outings.
Vancouver jumped out to an early lead just over five minutes into the contest courtesy of Kesler's breakaway goal after the Canuck forward jumped on a turnover generated by Chris Higgins and beat Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper with a wicked wrist shot just under the blocker for his team-leading 21st goal of the season.
Minnesota appeared to draw even just over three minutes later when ex-Canuck Keith Ballard beat Eddie Lack with a point shot but the goal was waved off by referee Brad Meier who ruled that Wild forward Erik Haula interfered with Lack although replays seemed to suggest otherwise.
The Wild would eventually find the equalizer with Parise beating Lack through a screen on a power play at 14:12 of the first period.
Neither team would manage to find the back of the net through the remainder of regulation and overtime although it was quite evident the Canucks controlled the play throughout the night but it was once again their lack of finish that cost them another game.
The Canucks out-shot the Wild 31-23 on the night, including 21-10 over the final two regulation periods and overtime, but weren't able to get more than one puck past Kuemper, who finished the night with 30 saves on 31 shots.
Lack turned aside 22 of 23 shots in the loss.
The Canucks close out their three-game home stand on Sunday afternoon when they hop across the street to BC Place and host the Ottawa Senators in the Heritage Classic.
NOTES AND NUMBERS: Ryan Kesler returned to the lineup after missing one game with a hand injury while Christopher Tanev returned after sitting out seven games with a broken thumb... The Canucks failed to win consecutive games during the entire month of February albeit they only played six games due to the Olympic break... Daniel Sedin's point drought grew to 11 games while his goal drought now sits at 21 games... The Canucks were credited with just six blocked shots on Friday, half of those belonging to Christopher Tanev.
LONG TIME BETWEEN SHORTIES: Ryan Kesler's shorthanded goal in the first period of Friday's game was the 10th of his career but his first in nearly two full calendar years. His last one came back on March 8, 2012 in a game against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena. Three of Kesler's 10 career shorthanded goals have come against the Wild. The Canucks are 8-0-2 all-time when Kesler scores a shorthanded marker.
SHADES OF SOCHI: There are many in Russia who, to say the least, aren't big fans of referee Brad Meier. After Friday, it's safe to suggest he doesn't have a huge fan base in Minnesota either. Meier earned headlines during the Winter Games when he infamously called off a potential go-ahead goal by Russia in a game against the Americans – a game Russia ended up losing 3-2 in a shootout. Meier was the referee who waved off what appeared to be a legitimate goal by Minnesota just shy of the midway mark of the first period by Keith Ballard.
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