Honestly, it’s hard to say exactly what happened to the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday.
They were facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh and lost the game by a final score of 8-6, which in and of itself suggests something wild was going on.
“I’ve been around long enough to see it, but to be involved in something like this personally, I don’t remember,” Canucks defenceman Jordie Benn said. “These are types of games you just want to get out of the building and forget about it. I have no idea how to explain this. It’s one of those games, like I said, we’ve just got to forget about.”
That’s probably for the best, but it’s also almost impossible to just walk away from whatever this game was.
Jake Guentzel opened the scoring for the Penguins in the first period. Bryan Rust scored about ten and a half minutes later on the power play to put his club up 2-0 going into the break, but J.T. Miller had other ideas and scored with under four minutes to go.
The second period started with Pittsburgh up 2-1 and that’s when Vancouver came out like a house of fire. Elias Pettersson scored his 11th of the season, Jake Virtanen found his seventh and there was Adam Gaudette putting it away with about a minute to go in the second. There they were, the mighty Canucks up 4-2 going into the third period.
Guentzel found twine again a minute into the third and it was 4-3 for Vancouver. The Canucks responded strong, scoring two goals – one from Miller on the power play and another from Gaudette from Tanner Pearson – and there they sat. Up 6-3 in the third period, that should’ve done it.
Oh, no. You know the score.
Dominik Kahun, Evgeni Malkin, Zach Aston-Reese, and Kris Letang scored unanswered goals. Malkin added another to the open net and the shell-shocked Canucks were forced to leave Pittsburgh without a win and with one of the strangest losses in recent memory.
How – seriously – do you blow a 6-3 lead? I get it, it’s been done.
But think about what Vancouver did here. They were down by two goals, ahead by three, lost by two after allowing five. In the third period. 13 minutes into the first period, they hadn’t registered a shot and the Penguins spent about 90 percent of their time in the offensive zone.
“It was 6-3 and I know our team was feeling pretty good about themselves,” head coach Travis Green said. “We hit the post to (almost) make it 7-3 and we took a penalty, which happens. I thought we made a couple of individual mistakes that we’d like to have back. They capitalized on it to make it 6-5 quick, and I thought then we felt the heat a little bit.”
The 12-10-4 Canucks will face the Edmonton Oilers in back-to-back games this weekend, starting Saturday. The Oilers are atop the division, which means Vancouver has to bear down big time to come up with some needed points. And after this wild and woolly affair in Pittsburgh, bearing down may take some doing.
Photo credit: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images