The Vancouver Canucks have been competitive this year despite having a losing record. The issue is the inability to hold leads.
Vancouver has lost seven games in which it had a multiple-goal lead, including Monday night’s 5-4 loss to Vegas. The Canucks will try to rebound when they hit the road to play the surging Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.
Monday’s loss snapped a short two-game winning streak, although it looked like Vancouver would make it three straight. The Canucks led 4-2 after Elias Pettersson scored his 10th goal of the season at 6:11 of the third period.
The Golden Knights tied it within 2 minutes, 46 seconds, and then won it late. It left Vancouver frustrated yet again.
“We all want to win and we’re all trying, but I don’t know what the answer is,” Pettersson said. “We just can’t let that happen and it’s been happening too much this season. It’s just frustrating. We have to love being in those moments, and I think we do, but it’s just not good enough.”
Wednesday will be the Canucks’ first game of a three-game road trip and their first time facing the defending champions this season. One of the challenges for Vancouver is staying out of the penalty box against Colorado’s potent power play.
The Canucks have racked up 229 penalty minutes, fourth-most in the NHL entering Tuesday, and that could be an issue against the Avalanche, who lead the NHL in power-play percentage at 34.5. Colorado’s power play was an uncharacteristic 1-for-6 in a 3-2 shootout win at Dallas on Monday night.
Part of that can be blamed on good goaltending but also the lack of depth up front. The Avalanche are dealing with injuries to its corps of forwards and a couple of key defensemen.
They might get one back against Vancouver. Sam Girard has been skating and may return Wednesday or Friday at Nashville.
Colorado does have Cale Makar on the blue line, and he was a difference maker against the Stars. He scored a goal for his 200th career point in just 195 games to become the fastest defenseman in NHL history to reach that mark.
The quickest to reach it before was Sergei Zubov, who did it in 207 games.
“If we don’t have this group of guys, I don’t think that gets accomplished,” Makar said.
The Avalanche are streaking after stumbling at the start of the season. They have gone 7-1-0 in November, including a sweep of their three-game road trip at Carolina, Washington and Dallas — despite multiple players being out.
“It’s huge for us, huge,” said Alex Newhook, who scored a goal Monday night. “Obviously a time where we’re trying to build and missing a lot of guys in our lineup. But guys are stepping up, and to get six points on a trip where we’re playing three pretty good teams, that’s huge for us.”
Colorado has gotten good goaltending and generated plenty of offense. The Avalanche have outscored opponents 32-15 in the eight November games, including a shutout by Alexandar Georgiev in Washington on Saturday.
–Field Level Media