Kadri, Rantanen register three-point nights as Avs down struggling Canucks 4-2

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VANCOUVER — A woeful penalty kill was once again the undoing of the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.

The team gave up three power-play goals — including two in the third period — en route to a 4-2 loss at home to the Colorado Avalanche.

“It’s a bit of a broken record, I’m sure," said Canucks defenceman Tucker Poolman. "Just every game it’s a play here or there and it happens to be on special teams one way or another. But we’ve got to stick with it as a group here, play hard for each other and just keep grinding.”

Vancouver came into the matchup with the worst penalty kill in the league, weathering just 62.3 per cent of the penalties it faced across the first 16 games of the year.

Then Colorado went 3 for 5 with the man advantage on Wednesday.

The Avs have been paying more attention to details on their power play lately, said Nazem Kadri, trying to execute better and make more tape-to-tape passes.

"The guys that we have out there have been communicating a lot and just trying to dot our I's and cross our T's, just trying to execute at a high level," said Kadri, who had a goal and two assists in the victory. "We've got the skill set out there, it's just about executing the game plan and tonight was I think one of our better nights on the power play."

Mikko Rantanen also scored and had two helpers for the Avs (7-5-1), while Cale Makar had one of each and Gabriel Landeskog added an empty-net strike.

Poolman scored and registered a helper for the Canucks (5-10-2), who also got a goal from Conor Garland.

Darcy Kuemper stopped 32-of-34 shots for the Avalanche and Thatcher Demko had 26 saves for the Canucks.

The result extended the Canucks' losing skid to five games and followed a disastrous road trip that saw Vancouver outscored 19-6 over three-straight blowouts, including a 7-1 loss to the Avalanche last Thursday.

Vancouver outshot the visitors Wednesday and briefly held the lead early in the third period, only to see it ripped away with yet another power-play goal.

“Frustrating to lose, especially with an effort like that," said head coach Travis Green. "Five on five was one of our better games of the year. Obviously the penalty kill let us down.”

The Canucks put in effort while shorthanded and had some good blocks, he said, but also faced some broken sticks.

“Sometimes when the ball’s rolling down hill, it’s hard to stop the momentum. But I thought in ways we took some steps tonight. I thought we got a little unlucky on the kill tonight," he said. "But we’ve got to be better. There’s no doubt about it.”

Vancouver pulled Demko late in the third in a bid to score yet another equalizer, but instead saw Landeskog bury an empty-net shot with 10 seconds left on the clock.

After being hit at the other end of the ice, Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes cross checked Samuel Girard, setting up another Colorado power-play goal 3:12 into the third.

“I was obviously upset, didn’t like the hit," Hughes said. "But it is what it is. I can’t be doing that.”

Devon Toews sent a slick pass to Makar, who unleashed a rocket from the top of the faceoff circle to make it 3-2 just 10 seconds into the power play.

The Avs were 3 for 5 with the man advantage Wednesday while the Canucks went scoreless on three power plays.

The Canucks briefly took the lead 1:30 into the third when Poolman scored his first goal in a Canucks' jersey. His shot from the top of the faceoff circle hit Kuemper and got caught under the goalie's pads before trickling over the goal line to put Vancouver up 2-1.

The home side had little time to celebrate, though — seconds later, Alex Chiasson was called for elbowing.

The ensuing penalty kill saw Demko lunge across the goalmouth before Kadri tapped a puck into the yawning net to knot the score at 2-2.

Pushing and shoving followed the goal, and both Rantanen and Vancouver forward J.T. Miller were sent to the box for roughing.

The Canucks were the dominant side through much of the second period, and outshot the Avs 15-7 across the frame.

Vancouver levelled the score at 8:52 of the second following heavy pressure on the Avs' net.

Garland had a shot at one side of the net blocked, with the puck bouncing out to Jason Dickinson at the top of the crease. Dickinson got a piece of the puck and sent it rolling through the blue paint as Garland made his way to the other side of the net in time to tap a backhanded shot in behind Kuemper's skate for his fourth goal of the year.

“Just get pucks on nets. There’s a really good goalie over there. Their guy blocked a shot and (Dickinson) stayed with it and fortunately found me," Garland said. "I should be trying to get there a little more myself. Just got to find a way to get another one obviously.”

Colorado got off to a hot start, outshooting the home side 9-1 in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Alex Newhook had a prime opportunity when he tried to jam a puck in from the top of the crease, only to see Demko make the stop. Russian rookie Vasily Podkolzin was called for hooking Newhook on the play.

The Avs capitalized on the man advantage at the 7:17 mark with Rantanen blasting a wrist shot over Demko's glove for his sixth goal of the season.

Colorado head coach Jared Bednar said his side got off to an excellent start, but the middle 30 minutes of the game "belonged to the Canucks."

"I thought they were the quicker team, the hungrier team, the heavier team but I did like the resiliency from our guys to kind of stick with it," he said. "It wasn't coming easy for us and then we had a good third. So, you fall behind and you're on the road but our guys wanted it tonight and they went to work for the third period, had a good period."

The Canucks continue a three-game homestand Friday when they host the Winnipeg Jets. The Avs will take on the Kraken in Seattle the same night.

NOTES: Chants of "Fire Benning" broke out in the upper bowl midway through the third period, referring to Canucks general manager Jim Benning. … Colorado defenceman Bowen Byram was scratched from the lineup after suffering a concussion in the Avs' win over the Canucks last week. The former Vancouver Giants star has yet to play an NHL game in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2021.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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