Canucks blow lead, rebound for OT win

Gordon McIntyre, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks committed a sin that's become common for them recently when playing in front of their home fans -- they gave up a late lead.
But this time, after giving up a 2-0 lead midway through the third period, Vancouver left winger Chris Higgins scored with 1:19 to go in overtime to salvage two points and give the Canucks a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night at Rogers Arena.
"I like that we won, but I don't like the way we won," Canucks coach John Tortorella said.
It was the fifth time in their last seven home games the Canucks gave up a third-period lead -- the San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings all recently came back with the Canucks leading after 40 minutes.
Friday's game was only the second home win in Vancouver's past seven games.
"I don't think (giving up a two-goal lead) was because of huge mistakes, they made a couple of plays, they weren't swarming all over us," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "Yeah, it wouldn't have been a good game to lose, it took 65 minutes, but we closed it out."
After a listless first period from both teams, defenseman Jason Garrison opened scoring on a Canucks power play with a one-timer slap shot from the blue line that beat Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith cleanly at 1:26 of the second period.
It marked the seventh straight game Vancouver's power play -- ranked 25th in the league -- scored at least a goal.
It was Garrison's second goal in five games. After scoring a goal in each of the Canucks' first two games of the season, he had gone 24 games without a goal.
Center Henrik Sedin, one-timing a pass from his brother, winger Daniel Sedin, beat Smith over his glove from the faceoff circle at 19:07 of the second to make it 2-0, just after the Canucks' top-ranked penalty kill successfully killed off another minor.
Phoenix center Antoine Vermette, scored an unassisted goal on a slap shot from the blue line that beat Robert Luongo in the Vancouver net at 10:34 of the third and Coyotes right winger David Moss scored from the near slot 2:21 later made it 2-2.
"In the third period, we focused on getting pucks in," Moss said. "That should have been our game plan the whole game, but we waited until the third."
The Canucks, after a successful road trip that saw them go 3-1-0, have now won four of their past five games.
But their third-period lapses have their coach scratching his head.
"We talk about it and talk about it to stay on our toes, but I don't think our guys were good at all in the neutral zone," Tortorella said. "We got outplayed in the third period.
"We have to get out of this situation of not finishing games because we're not going anywhere unless we do."
The Coyotes were missing right winger and captain Shane Doan, out with the flu, and defenseman Derek Morris, who had a family matter to attend to.
"Anytime you're missing veteran guys like Doaner and Mo, it's a huge hit," Moss said, "but other guys need to step up.
"It's frustrating not coming out with two points, but we'll take the one point and move on."
NOTES: Three of the top five career goal scorers from the 1999 NHL entry draft played in Friday night's game at Rogers Arena. Canucks LW Daniel Sedin (picked second overall) had 301 goals entering the game to lead the way, Phoenix RW Radim Vrbata was fourth with 204 goals (chosen 212th) and Vancouver C Henrik Sedin was fifth with 189 goals (chosen third overall). ... The Coyotes, known in recent years as a tight defensive team that had trouble scoring goals, was fourth in the NHL with 3.14 goals per game and eighth with 31.5 shots per game before facing the Canucks. ... The Vancouver power play, which languished in 28th for most of the season, has man-advantage goals in seven straight games. ... With Canucks D Alex Edler out indefinitely with a lower-body injury, D Andrew Alberts drew in for only his fourth game this season. He last dressed Oct. 24.

What to Read Next