Rantanen puts up two points, Avalanche down Canucks 4-1 to extend win streak

VANCOUVER — A difficult season is wearing on the Vancouver Canucks.

With rumours of a coaching change swirling and facing a rash of fearsome opponents, the team dropped a 4-1 decision to the visiting Colorado Avalanche on Friday.

“It kind of seems like the mindset and the mood got to us tonight," said defenceman Tyler Myers. "You can tell guys are down. It’s not easy times right now, there’s a lot going on. We’ve got to find a way to stay positive and keep working."

The Canucks (18-24-3) are now 2-8-0 in their last 10 games. Multiple reports say head coach Bruce Boudreau will be fired imminently and replaced with former Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet.

“I think tonight was the first time it showed for our group that things might be starting to affect some of us," Myers said. "It’s a long season, a lot of time and you might have days like that, but you can't keep having days like that."

Mikko Rantanen scored and notched an assist for the Avalanche (24-17-3), while Andrew Cogliano, Valeri Nichushkin and Brad Hunt all added goals. Nathan MacKinnon contributed a pair of helpers as Colorado extended its win streak to four games.

Elias Pettersson replied for the Canucks with a highlight-reel goal in the second period.

Alexandar Georgiev made 28 saves for Colorado and Vancouver's Collin Delia stopped 25-of-29 shots.

"Guys are playing confident and it helps that we kind of worked through that tough stretch and got a couple in a row," Georgiev said of his team's recent success. "And now it's just one day at a time for us as usual."

The Avalanche relied on their special teams to roll over the Canucks, going 2 for 4 on the power play. Vancouver was 0 for 4.

A two-man advantage saw Colorado go up 3-0 midway through the second after Conor Garland was sent to the box for holding and his team was called for too many men.

MacKinnon sent a blistering shot wide of the net and the puck sprang off the end boards to Rantanen at the goal line. The right-winger fired off a quick sharp-angle shot over Delia stick side for his 32nd goal of the year at the 10:32 mark.

The Avs started the second with an extended 5-on-3 after Brock Boeser was sent to the box for putting a puck over the glass and Luke Schenn joined him after getting called for holding with just seconds to go in the first.

Thirty-four seconds into the new period, J.T. Compher sliced Nichushkin a pass from the goal line and the Russian forward sent a wrist shot sailing toward the net. The puck bounced in off Myers as he slid in front of the net and Colorado took a 2-0 lead.

The Canucks boast the league's worst penalty kill at 66.4 per cent.

“It seems to be a broken record a lot of times. I don't know if we've killed a 5-on-3 off yet this year," Boudreau said. "But when you lose the special teams battles, a lot of times you lose the game and that's what happened again tonight."

Vancouver got on the board 12:32 into the middle frame after Boeser dove in the slot, poking the puck to Pettersson at the top of the crease. The Swedish centre used some deft stickhandling, moving the puck from his forehand to his backhand, then, falling to his knees, wrapped a shot around Georgiev for his 19th goal of the season.

The Colorado netminder denied Canucks captain Bo Horvat on a short-handed breakaway minutes before, curling an outstretched leg into the air and kicking the puck away for a scorpion save.

Despite Vancouver's performance Friday, the crowd showed its appreciation for Boudreau with chants of "Bruce, there it is!" to the tune of Tag Team's "Whoomp! (There it is)."

The veteran NHL bench boss called the showing "unbelievable."

"I've only been here a year but it'll go down in my memory books, out of the 48 years I've played and coached, as the most incredible thing I've experienced on a personal level, other than winning championships, of course," he said. "But it's very touching.”

INS AND OUTS

Defenceman Travis Dermott returned to the Canucks lineup after missing three games with an undisclosed injury. Colorado's Cale Makar missed a second straight game with an upper-body injury.

MILESTONE WATCH

MacKinnon contributed an assist on Nichushkin's goal, extending his point streak to seven games, with four goals and 11 helpers across the stretch. He now sits at 699 regular-season points across his NHL career.

STREAK SNAPPED

Horvat saw his nine-game point streak come to an end. The Canucks centre registered four goals and six assists going back to Dec. 29.

UP NEXT

Canucks: host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Avalanche: round out a three-game road swing against the Kraken in Seattle on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2023.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press