Vancouver Canucks dumped from playoff race
Vancouver Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows looks for the rebound right in front of Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson during the first period of action on Monday night at Rogers Arena. (REUTERS)
The Vancouver Canucks knew heading into Monday’s game what a regulation loss would have meant.
Still, you wouldn’t have been able to tell that their season was officially on the line by the way they played. Challenged offensively, crummy defensively and coming up short in energy — in other words, pretty much how most of the second half of their campaign has been.
Now, they can officially say goodbye to the playoffs. The dream is over.
With a 3-0 defeat to the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena, the Canucks are mathematically eliminated from the post-season, even prompting the sparse crowd to chant “Fire Gillis” with less than five minutes to go in the game. It’s the first time since 2008 that Vancouver has failed to reach the big dance.
“It’s not fun obviously,” Ryan Kesler said. “It’s already sunk in. It’s not a good feeling. You don’t want to be standing here in April with meaningless games left.”
Vancouver now have three games left to go and even though they can still tie Dallas — who currently hold the final wild card spot — in points, the Stars have the tiebreaker.
Anaheim, who are sitting second in the Western Conference, gave John Gibson his first NHL start as well.
And the 20-year-old Pittsburgh native made the most of it, stopping 18 shots for the shutout.
Meanwhile at the other end, Eddie Lack made 20 saves as his season record dropped below .500.
For the Canucks, instead of playing with much-needed urgency, they gave up a breakaway 20 seconds into the game before surrendering a shorthanded goal about six minutes later.
Centre Daniel Winnik capitalized on a Henrik Sedin turnover at the 6:26 mark to turn a Canucks power play into an Anaheim lead.
The Ducks doubled that late in the second period when Kyle Palmieri deflected a Ben Lovejoy shot for his 14th of the year. It gets worse.
After putting up just three shots in the middle frame, the Canucks came into the third period with some horrid defending.
First, a pair of Anaheim Ducks broke into the Vancouver zone alone, forcing Lack to bail his team out.
Then soon after, Matt Beleskey finished another odd-man rush to give Anaheim a commanding three-goal lead. Game over. Good night, Vancouver.
Game 80 goes Thursday when they host the Colorado Avalanche — a now meaningless game for the Canucks.