The Vancouver Canucks have made comebacks an art form this season but they couldn't conjure another complete one Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings.
Trailing 3-2 after 40 minutes, the Canucks pulled even on Daniel Sedin's goal at 4:40 of the third period and managed to get the game into overtime, securing at least point. However, Henrik Zetterberg scored with just 3/10ths of second remaining in the extra period as the Wings prevailed 4-3.
The so-called 'loser point' pushed the Canucks' record to 44-24-4 and moved them six points up on the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Northwest Division. Colorado holds two games in hand.
Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault was subdued by Saturday's loss, especially the season-high 54 shots allowed. The Canucks also surrendered two goals five seconds apart in the second period to set a dubious team record. Their previous low point for consecutive goals allowed was seven seconds, which they managed to do three times.
"To some extent, we were fortunate to get a point," Vigneault said. "Our puck management in our zone and their end was not good. It led to numerous turnovers that they jumped on. Obviously when you get 50-something shots on you, you're giving up a lot of chances. Our goaltender was really good tonight but their top players took their game to a really big level. They were really good, really desperate and they played really hard."
Zetterberg netted the winner on a backhander as Canuck defenceman Christian Ehrhoff's stick broke on the play. It was Zetterberg's ninth shot of the night.
"Ehrhoff didn't have his stick and I thought Pavol [Demitra] should have come in there a little bit to help with the amount of time that was left," Vigneault continued. "He didn't and the puck ended up in the back of our net."
Despite getting out-shot 17-8 in the opening 20 minutes, the Canucks still emerged with a 2-0 advantage as Kyle Wellwood and Shane O'Brien, with his first goal in 33 games, beat Wings starter Jimmy Howard.
Wellwood deflected Ehrhoff's point shot at the 4:10 mark while O'Brien, on an assist from Wellwood, drifted a long wrister through traffic at 13:38.
The Canucks then squandered their lead in the middle period when Todd Bertuzzi, at 12:34, and Pavel Datsyuk, at 12:39, beat Roberto Luongo for the record-breaking scores.
Vancouver's second-period misery was completed when the Wings took a 3-2 lead on a shorthanded goal by Valtteri Filppula, at 17:39, after Alex Edler misplayed the puck at Detroit's blueline. Filppula easily deked Luongo with a backhander on the breakaway.
The Wings scored their three second-period goals on their final four shots of the period. Bertuzzi's goal was particularly galling as Bieksa, after turning the puck over on a poor breakout pass, eventually lost the puck in his feet and did a complete revolution looking for it before Bertuzzi tapped it home. It was Bertuzzi's first goal in 20 games.
"I don't think we sat back, they just took the game to us," said Canuck defenceman Sami Salo. "We made a few turnovers in the neutral zone and they got some chances from that. I think we want to correct that a little bit."
Maybe even a lot.
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks are not scheduled to practise Sunday and will resume workouts Monday morning before travelling to Edmonton for Tuesday night's game... The Canucks sold out for the 297th consecutive game...Tanner Glass, Andrew Alberts and Nolan Baungartner were the Canucks healthy scratches against the Wings...The Red Wings dressed eight defencemen as forwards Dan Cleary (groin) and Patrick Eaves (head) were injured Friday in Edmonton...
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