Barzal puts up three points, Islanders hand struggling Canucks 6-2 loss

VANCOUVER — Yet again, boos rained down on the Vancouver Canucks as they left the ice Tuesday night.

In their first game of the New Year, old mistakes plagued the team as they dropped a 6-2 decision to the New York Islanders on home ice.

"It’s kind of been a similar story for too long now," said defenceman Tyler Myers. "We talk about our consistency — we had a really good first period and then we came off the gas a bit to start the second. We’ve got to find a way."

The result stretched Vancouver's losing skid to three games and marked the 16th time this season the Canucks (16-18-3) have given up at least five goals.

Matt Barzal scored and notched a pair of assists for the Isles (22-15-2), while Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted two and Casey Cizikas put up a goal and an assist. Aatu Raty and Anders Lee rounded out the scoring for the visitors.

Bo Horvat replied with two goals for the Canucks.

The personal success doesn't mean much when the Canucks aren't winning, the captain said.

"At the end of the day, that's what we want to do here," Horvat said. "We want to make the playoffs and we want to be in contention and obviously I'm trying to do whatever I can to help make that happen. But at the end of the day, it's not good enough.”

New York's Ilya Sorokin stopped 24-of-26 shots and Spencer Martin made 23 saves for Vancouver.

The Canucks had a prime opportunity to claw back a late goal with a power play. Head coach Bruce Boudreau pulled Martin in favour of an extra attacker, but it was the Isles who scored, with Pageau sending a long shot into the yawning net with 2:09 left on the clock.

Cizikas put away his third goal of the season 9:44 into the third, blasting a wrist shot over Martin's glove from the faceoff dot.

Rookie Parker Wotherspoon — who's from Surrey, B.C., and grew up a Canucks fan — assisted on the play, marking his first NHL point.

The Islanders regained a two-goal cushion 1:46 into the final frame after Vancouver's Ethan Bear turned the puck over deep in Canucks' territory.

Brock Nelson picked it up, spun to keep it on his stick, then sent it to Lee, who sent a wrist shot in to make it 4-2.

Vancouver cut its deficit late in the second with a power-play goal.

Seconds into the man advantage, J.T. Miller sliced a pass to Horvat in the slot and he blasted a shot past Sorokin to make it 3-2 with his 28th goal of the season.

Vancouver went 1-for-3 on the power play and New York was 1-for-2.

Another ugly giveaway quickly cost the home side midway through the second period.

Myers coughed up the puck in the corner and Barzal took advantage, sailing a shot into the top corner of the net to make it 3-1 for the visitors.

The tally — his 10th of the season — extended the centre's goal streak to four games. He has five goals across the stretch.

"When (Barzal) competes like he is right now, he's skating, he's making the right decision and he's shooting the puck more," Pageau said. "He's got a great shot. When he's playing with confidence like that, he's a player that can make a difference. He's a key player for us and we're lucky to have him."

Pageau gave New York the lead with a power-play goal 12:56 into the middle frame.

Ryan Pulock saw his long-range slap shot stopped but Pageau collected the rebound in front of the net and slid a shot between the Canucks netminder and the post.

Raty drew the Isles even 2:26 into the second, sending a shot over Martin's right pad from the low slot.

The game's momentum seemed to swing between the first and second periods, Boudreau said.

“It's like as soon as something bad happens to this team, the adversity, we cannot handle it. And it seems like ‘Oh, here we go.’ And then that's it," the coach said. "As long as we've got the lead we’re fine. But when we get behind, it's not a good thing. It just seems like the wind goes out of everybody's sails.”

Vancouver opened the scoring 18:23 into the game after Oliver Ekman-Larsson launched a long bomb from inside the blue line. Stationed in the faceoff circle, Horvat tipped it in past Sorokin for his first of the night.

The Canucks captain is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the third most goals in the league. They trail Buffalo's Tage Thompson (30) and Edmonton's Connor McDavid (32).


Barzal, who hails from the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam, B.C., has found the scoresheet in all 10 of his career matchups against the Canucks, amassing 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) against his hometown team.

MR. 900

Canucks defenceman Luke Schenn played his 900th regular-season NHL game. The 33-year-old from Saskatoon set another milestone in early December when he delivered his 2,947th hit — the most by a defenceman since the league started tracking the stat back in 2005-06.


Canucks: Host the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

Islanders: Continue a four-game road trip Thursday in Edmonton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2023.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press