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THE MOJ: Wild shootout type of adversity lesson this Canucks team needed

Vancouver blows 5-2 lead, loses 10-7 to Minnesota in a game where they lost their composure
Vancouver head coach Rick Tocchet’s team blew a 5-2 lead and lost 10-7 to the Minnesota Wild Monday afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota. Vancouver Canucks photo

Well that was an interesting way to spend a Monday afternoon.

It seemed to be another day at the office for the Vancouver Canucks, who led the Minnesota Wild 5-2 late in the second period at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Wild, however, caught a break when Mats Zuccarello scored a goal that went in off Vancouver’s Ian Cole with 33 seconds remaining in the second. That goal cut the Canucks lead to 5-3 and gave the home team some life heading into the third period.

That goal was a harbinger of things to come as the Wild would score five goals in the first 5:12 of the third en route to a crazy 10-7 win over the Canucks.

It marked the first time this season that Vancouver blew a lead after two periods in regulation (31-1-2) largely in part to the Wild scoring four straight power play goals starting with Zuccarello’s tally.

Yes, you could point the finger at referees Jon McIsaac and Pierre Lambert, who awarded the Wild four two-man power play advantages and decided to let play continue on the Wild’s game-tying fifth goal by Kirill Kaprizov despite the fact that the Canucks appeared to have covered up the puck twice in the sequence prior to the goal. And don’t get me going on the interference penalty against Vancouver’s Elias Lindholm in the first period which could have been the softest call of the season in the entire league.

The Canucks also needed a big save from goaltender Casey DeSmith at some point but he failed to do so as he allowed eight goals on 25 shots in an uncharacteristic performance.

Regardless of all the aforementioned issues, the reason the Canucks lost to the Wild was that the hockey club faced some serious adversity and it didn’t remain poised enough to meet the challenge.

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet has preached all season long about having the ability to maintain your composure in pressure situations and the Canucks didn’t do that in Minnesota.

“You have to learn how to play under pressure. What was it? Four 5-on-3’s? We gave them a goal at the end of the first and then we take a penalty at the end of the second. These are lessons where we have to learned to play under pressure. Our 5-on-5 play was good. I thought we had a lot of chances but obviously the other parts of our game weren’t good,” a grim-faced Tocchet said afterwards.

Tocchet also expressed his concern when it came to the penalties that have plagued the Canucks the last few games.

“It’s probably been three or four games. It’s actually stupid stick penalties that you can’t do and we have to learn that when you play under pressure you cannot do those things,” surmised Tocchet.

The defeat comes on the heels of Vancouver losing 4-2 to the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on Saturday night in a game in which the Jets scored two third period goals to secure the victory.

The good news is that the Canucks are facing this adversity now and hopefully can learn from it.

Just ask anyone close to the Boston Bruins about why they lost to the Florida Panthers in the first round of the playoffs last year after a record-breaking regular season and they’ll tell you the Bruins never had to deal with any adversity throughout the course of their 82-game schedule.

By going through this now, you can learn how to deal with these situations and have reference points moving forward that hopefully will help you when similar scenarios present themselves in the future.

Simply put, better the Canucks go through this turmoil on a February afternoon in Minnesota and gain an understanding of how to respond rather than a May night in Las Vegas.


* The 14 goals in the contest were the most in Wild franchise history. The most goals in a Canucks game is 19, which occurred on October 7, 1983 when Vancouver defeated the Minnesota North Stars 10-9 in a game at the Pacific Coliseum.

* The Wild got hat tricks from Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek with Zuccarello, Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi and Jonas Brodin also scoring. Vancouver’s J.T. Miller also recorded a hat trick with Brock Boeser, Nikita Zadorov, Elias Pettersson and Ian Cole adding goals.

* According to Sportsnet Stats, it marked the first time in 32 years that a game featured three hat tricks. Luc Robitaille, Jari Kurri and Mike Donnelly of the Los Angeles Kings tallied three goals each as the Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks 11-4 on November 8, 1992.

* It was also the first NHL game in 36 years where both teams scored seven or more goals on 30 or fewer shots. The Kings defeated the Calgary Flames 9-7 on March 30, 1988 in a game in which both teams recorded 28 shots each.

* The Canucks are right back at with a game in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. Vancouver will try to avoid losing three games in a row for the first time this year.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media.

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