A game for the ages, this was not.
Perhaps the best part of Tuesday’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Florida Panthers was the back-and-forth barrage of Twitter trash talk between the Canucks’ official account and that of, oddly enough, the Edmonton Oilers.
Won’t get into too much detail, but it began in the second period and was pretty much the most interesting part of the evening for a good 30 minutes or so.
Anyways. Back to the actual on-ice events.
The Canucks, outworked on home ice, fell to the Panthers 3-2 in the shootout.
The Canucks initially grabbed the lead in the third period on a goal by Jannik Hansen, but couldn’t hold on.
Hansen benefited from a Panthers giveaway in the slot and wired a wrist shot top corner over the glove of Tim Thomas to give the Canucks their first lead of the night early in the third period.
The Panthers, thanks to a goal less than six minutes later from Shawn Matthias, tied it at two-goals apiece, eventually sending this one to overtime and the shootout.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored the winner in the shootout.
The Canucks are now winless in their last five games.
The Panthers sat seventh in the Atlantic Division coming into tonight, with only five wins through 21 games, and were 27th in the league in goals against, allowing an average of 3.19 goals per game.
The Canucks, perhaps thinking this was going to be easy, got off to a sluggish start, like they were stumbling around half asleep in the middle of the night.
“We sucked. It was easily our worst game of the year. We didn’t deserve a point,” head coach John Tortorella told reporters afterward.
“It’s lack of respect and we have no business to show a lack of respect to any hockey team. In the situation we’re in going into tonight’s game, I just don’t know what we’re thinking as far as how we started the game. If it isn’t for (Luongo) we’re down three or four nothing in that first period, we get squat for points. So I can’t explain it.”
The rebuilding Panthers, on the other hand, were far more determined.
Not just in the first period, but throughout the night. They won three faceoffs in the final minute of what was a tie game in the third period, giving them a chance to snatch two points away from the Canucks.
The Panthers opened the scoring early in the first period, with Brad Boyes firing the puck into a mostly wide-open net. It was the end result of a wild scramble in front of the net, as Vancouver’s penalty killers were running around out of position.
Chris Higgins answered for Vancouver in the second period with his seventh goal of the season.
Prior to that, the second best chance for the Canucks came from the fourth line of Jeremy Welsh, Tom Sestito and Dale Weise – back from missing the last 10 games with a lower-body injury. It was that kind of a night.
The most intriguing storyline coming into the game was the goaltending match-up – Roberto Luongo up against Thomas, who backstopped the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship right here at Rogers Arena back on June 15, 2011.
Way back when Luongo pumped Thomas’ tires and Thomas lifted the silver chalice, and was also named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the playoff’s most valuable player.
Kind of old news, but the Canucks once again could not best of the polarizing goalie.
Luongo made 34 saves, including a brilliant pad stop in overtime to give his team a chance at the win. He also robbed Marcel Goc with the right pad on a short-handed breakaway chance in the first period.
The Canucks begin the back half of this six-game home stand Friday, when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Although Tuesday’s result was one to lament.
“We were playing really good going into this game,” Tortorella continued.
“This clunker here, it just makes no sense to me. I think a team should be chomping on the bit to get into a win column but it was a total lack of respect. There are no easy games in this game. It’s a lesson learned and I hope we do learn from it.”