Game 76: Duck Dagger
In desperate need of two points to gain some ground on the eighth-place Phoenix Coyotes – who suffered a regulation loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday – the Canucks instead came away with absolutely zilch for the first time in five games after dropping a 5-1 decision to the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena.
Luca Sbisa, Matt Beleskey, Saku Koivu, Corey Perry and Mathieu Perreault each had a goal for the victorious Ducks, while Brad Richardson tallied the lone marker for the Canucks, who lost for the fourth time this season to the Ducks.
The part the Canucks will lament the most on this night is the fact that, despite the final score suggesting a dominating performance by Anaheim, this was a game that Vancouver could have won had they managed to cash in on some of their glorious scoring chances.
The Canucks out-shot the Ducks 32-21 and had more scoring chances spread throughout the night but only managed to beat rookie netminder Frederik Anderson once courtesy of Richardson's marker just past the midway mark of the first period – a tally that cut the Anaheim lead to 2-1 at the time after goals by Sbisa and Beleskey scored 1:09 apart early in the opening frame gave the Ducks a two-goal cushion.
What the Ducks lacked in quantity on Saturday they made up for in quality.
Eddie Lack, who finished the night with just 16 saves, would have probably liked to have the first shot that got passed him back as it came on a long point shot by Sbisa that somehow eluded the traffic in front of the net and beat him cleanly.
It's hard to blame Lack on any of the other four goals the Ducks got past him, however, as all were essentially easy tap-ins set up by perfectly executed plays.
What the Canucks needed on Saturday, in addition to being able to cash in on their own scoring opportunities, was for Lack to put up a brick wall while standing on his head. They didn't get either and, as a result, they took one step closer towards being mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt.
They'll look to delay what now seems like the inevitable on Tuesday when they host former head coach Alain Vigneault and the New York Rangers.
NOTES AND NUMBERS: Zack Kassian extended his point streak to a career-high four games (2-5-7) by drawing an assist on Richardson’s goal... Anaheim's Mathieu Perreault extended his career-high point streak to eight games (6-3-9)... Kevin Bieksa, who was questionable to play after suffering a leg injury on Thursday in Colorado, ended up leading all players in ice-time with 25:36... Frank Corrado, who was re-called on Friday from Utica (AHL) in case Bieksa couldn't go, took the pre-game skate but was a healthy scratch... The Ducks equaled their franchise record for most wins in a single season (48) and set a new record for most road wins in a single season (23)... The Ducks have out-scored the Canucks 21-6 after four games in the season series... Anaheim has now won five games in a row over Vancouver marking the longest win streak in their franchise history against the Canucks.
PLAYOFF PICTURE UPDATE: On the surface, the Canucks ended Saturday the same way they began it – five points behind the Coyotes for the final playoff spot and owing Phoenix one game in hand. Complicating matters is the fact the ninth-place Stars defeated the Blues and are now four points up on the Canucks while still holding two games in hand. The Canucks' chances of potentially reeling in the seventh-place Wild, meanwhile, are all-but-dead. Minnesota is now eight points up on Vancouver while holding a game in hand. The Wild need to earn just four points in their final seven games in order to permanently put the Canucks in their rear view mirror.
FLASH FORWARD: Vancouver fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Teemu Selanne on his farewell tour will have to wait until April 7. The Ducks, as has been their custom for most of their games after playing the night before this season, gave Selanne the night off on Saturday. The 43-year-old, barring a(nother) change of heart in the off-season, is playing in his final NHL season. As per Canucks TV host Joey Kenward, despite the Ducks' April 7 game in Vancouver also being the back end of a two games in two nights scenario, Selanne is expected to suit up in that contest giving Vancouver fans one last chance to see him play in person.