VANCOUVER — Another third-period meltdown cost the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
Up 3-1 heading into the final frame, the team had to settle for a single point in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators.
“We sat back instead of went after them and then the next thing you know, they've got two goals," said Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau.
"I think that sometimes it's like you're afraid to win. And we righted the ship after that, and they didn't have a lot but it was too little too late.”
The Canucks (3-6-3) have given up multi-goal leads five times this season and been outscored 22-13 in third periods.
The record isn't lost on Vancouver's opponents.
"As soon as we scored that first goal, I felt like we had a mental advantage on them," said Nashville defenceman Mattias Ekholm who had a pair of assists in the win.
"They seemed to be on their heels a little bit. They were just flipping pucks out and we kept coming at them and got another goal and after that, I thought we pressured for a fourth and it didn't come until this shootout."
Jordan Gross recorded his first two NHL goals for the Predators (5-6-1) in regulation while Nino Niederreiter scored and notched an assist.
All three of Vancouver's goals came in the first period, with J.T. Miller putting up a goal and a helper, Ilya Mikheyev and Andrei Kuzmenko each finding the back of the net and Quinn Hughes contributing a pair of assists.
Nashville goalie Juuse Saros struggled early but recovered and stopped 43-of-46 shots across regulation play and overtime. Demko made 27 saves for the Canucks.
Vancouver nearly pulled ahead again midway through the final frame when Miller streaked in on a breakaway with two Predators chasing, and blasted a shot on net. Saros plucked the puck out of the air to keep the game tied.
“(Saros) had my number, that's for sure," Miller said. "I could have broke the game early multiple times and opened it multiple times. And I didn't so I’ve got to find a way to bear down on my chances."
Niederreiter levelled the score at the 2:41 mark of the third, collecting his own rebound and poking it through Demko's pads to make it 3-3.
Playing in his second game for the Predators, Gross put away his second of the night 95 seconds earlier.
Nashville won the offensive-zone faceoff and Zach Sanford dished a quick pass to Gross. The 27-year-old defenceman sailed a quick wrist shot over Demko's shoulder.
Gross got Nashville on the board with a second-period power-play goal.
The ensuing skirmish saw both Myers and Jeannot handed fighting penalties, but Myers was also given a two-minute minor for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.
Gross tipped in a Niederreiter shot from the low slot at the 3:00 mark, putting the Preds on the board with his first NHL goal.
Vancouver was 1-for-4 with the man advantage Saturday and Nashville went 1-for-5.
Kuzmenko gave the Canucks a 3-0 cushion with a power-play goal 17:32 into the game after Cole Smith was sent to the box for high-sticking.
Miller sent a sharp-angle shot flying toward the net and Kuzmenko redirected it in for his fifth goal of the season.
Vancouver jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 3:41 into the first when Miller collected a Nils Hoglander rebound and popped it through Saros' pads.
Coming off a high-flying 8-5 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, the Canucks were quick on the board Saturday night.
Mikheyev ripped a shot from the faceoff circle 1:56 into the game, sailing a puck over Saros' glove for his third goal of the season.
“We knew that just because the first period was in our favour pretty much the whole time that the game wasn't over," Miller said. "There was a couple of mistakes made and it sucks to come out (with a loss). We played a good 40 minutes, set ourselves up.
"And obviously, at this point in time we're tired of getting teams coming back on us. But it's not all bad and I think we're a lot closer than people think.”
Miller extended his point streak to six games. He has five goals and four assists across the stretch. … Bo Horvat registered his 200th NHL assist. … Nashville centre Colton Sissons, who hails from North Vancouver, B.C., turned 29 on Saturday.
The Canucks launch a five-game eastern swing against the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday. The Predators take on the Kraken in Seattle the same night.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press