VANCOUVER — A two-goal cushion proved fatal once again for the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.
With the home side up 4-2 midway through the third period, fans inside Vancouver's Rogers Arena began to celebrate. Moments later, they watched the lead slip away and the Canucks ultimately fall 5-4 to the Vegas Golden Knights.
It was the seventh time this season the Canucks (6-10-3) have coughed up a multi-goal lead in a loss.
The statistic is "inexcusable," said Vancouver defenceman Luke Schenn.
“That's nothing to do with systems or what the coaches are telling us. That comes down to battle and compete and, we're getting out muscled and out battled in front of the net and in the blue paint," he said. "Everyone just needs to be better in front of (goalie Thatcher Demko) there and that's where games are won and lost.”
Vegas (15-4-1) held a 2-1 advantage heading into the third period, where the offence erupted for both sides.
Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau thought his group came into the final frame "determined and playing hard."
"That's how we got three goals in that short period of time. And then once they scored one it was like, ‘Uh oh, here we go again.’ And we’re back on our heels and they came at us, and then they got three," he said.
"Those are the tough games to take because you think your team plays so hard and they want to win so bad and they come out and they get nothing for it. So it's very disappointing.”
Bo Horvat drew the Canucks even 1:47 into the third with a wrist shot from the hash marks with his 15th goal on the season.
Then Schenn got on the board 5:35 into period with a shot that ricocheted in off Golden Knights' defenceman Nicolas Hauge to give the home side a 3-2 lead.
Elias Pettersson padded the advantage 6:11 into the frame, blasting a one-timer from the bottom of the slot. Golden Knights' goalie Logan Thompson saved the initial shot but the Swedish centre crashed the net and poked in the rebound.
Vegas stormed back 33 seconds later when William Carrier buried his second goal of the night, sending in a rebound from the top of the crease and cutting the deficit to 4-3.
Smith shovelled a puck into the Vancouver net 8:57 into the frame to tie the game at 4-4.
“We let them score one, kind of changed the momentum quick and then they scored another one. So I don't know," Pettersson said. "We just can't let that happen. It’s been happening way too many times this season.”
Another goal was disallowed after Mark Stone sent a puck through Demko's pads 10:08 into the third. Vancouver challenged, arguing the puck went out of play and after video review, officials agreed, saying it hit the lens of a photojournalist's camera in the corner before popping back out onto the ice.
Alex Pietrangelo put away the game winner 14:14 into the final frame, collecting a puck from Stone and sending a backhanded shot past Demko from the low slot.
Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy praised his group for being resilient after going down in the third.
“We just win some pucks below their goal line and get it to the front of the net and force them to defend an area they haven't done as good a job as they'd probably like this year there," he said. "We didn't do a very good job to start a third there, and then it snowballs a little bit. You have a little life and you get a couple more pucks to the net and a second chance."
In addition to the game winner, Pietrangelo notched a pair of helpers on Monday.
The third period was "a little sporadic," he said.
"I don’t think that’s really how we drew it up," he said. "A lot of emotions. Obviously we score and then it gets taken back. But I’ll tell you what, it’s not easy to win on the road and you’ve got to give credit to our group — we were resilient no matter what happened."
Vancouver's Andrei Kuzmenko (one goal, one assist) and Quinn Hughes (two assists) both registered two-point nights.
Thompson made 25 saves for Vegas and Demko stopped 33-of-38 shots for the Canucks.
Canucks forward Dakota Joshua said Monday he isn't surprised about racism his younger brother recently faced while playing hockey for Michigan State.
Jagger Joshua issued a statement on Twitter earlier in the day, saying he a player from Ohio State called him "a racial slur multiple times" during a game on Nov. 11.
There's no room in sports or life for that kind of behaviour, Dakota Joshua said.
"You’d like to think we’ve come a long way, especially over recent years. But obviously it still keeps happening," he said. "So until it’s non-existent, I don’t think it’s surprising.”
Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault played his 500th regular-season NHL game Monday. Now in his 10th season, the 31-year-old centre suited up for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers before Vegas selected him in the 2017 expansion draft. Vancouver defenceman Ethan Bear made his 200th regular-season appearance.
The Canucks will kick off a three-game road trip Wednesday against the Avalanche in Colorado. The Golden Knights will host the Ottawa Senators the same night.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press