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Canucks put slim playoff hopes on line vs. Kraken

Sportsnaut
Apr 3, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (35) looks on as defenseman Quinn Hughes (43)handles the puck against the Vegas Golden Knights in the third period at Rogers Arena. Vegas won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks were 0.9 seconds away from playoff elimination.

But thanks to a last-second goal in regulation by San Jose’s Timo Meier, the Vegas Golden Knights were unable to completely dash the Canucks’ hopes Sunday night. The Sharks topped the Golden Knights 5-4 in overtime, leaving Vancouver with a slim chance of extending its season.

The Canucks are six points out of the Western Conference’s second and final wild-card berth with three games to play, starting with Tuesday’s home matchup against the expansion Seattle Kraken.

“We pushed from Dec. 5 until now, and I expect us, for the next three games, to keep pushing again,” said Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau, referring to the date he took over for the fired Travis Green. “But we know that our ultimate goal is probably not going to be reached.”

The Canucks (38-30-11, 87 points) have lost three in a row, including a 6-3 defeat Saturday at Calgary.

Vancouver’s Conor Garland tied the score 2-2 at 5:36 of the third period, but the Flames regained the lead just 14 seconds later and outscored the Canucks 4-1 over the final 14:10.

“When we tied it up, I thought, ‘OK, let’s get through the next five minutes’ and even if it was a game where you take it to overtime, we don’t care if they get an extra point or not,” Boudreau said. “But they score on the next shift and that sort of let go for the next four, five minutes after that. It was just a real big sock in the head type thing.”

Still, the Canucks are 30-15-9 since Boudreau took over.

“We’ve been (bouncing back) all year, so that’s what we’re going to keep doing,” Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. “There’s no quitting in that (dressing) room. We’ve showed it so many times this year. Take it one game at a time and see where it takes us.”

Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s loss to tie the franchise record for points in a season by a defenseman with 63, set by Doug Lidster in 1986-87. Hughes also set the Canucks record for assists by a defenseman with 56.

The Kraken (26-46-6, 58 points), long ago eliminated from postseason contention, posted their first three-game winning streak last week.

But they blew two-goal leads in back-to-back losses at Minnesota (6-3) and Dallas (3-2) on Friday and Saturday.

Matty Beniers had his five-game point streak snapped Saturday, one shy of the NHL record shared by Wayne Gretzky for longest streak to start a career for an expansion team.

The Kraken allowed three second-period goals against the Stars after giving up five in that same frame to the Wild.

“We’ve been playing some pretty decent hockey lately if you cross out the last couple of second periods,” Kraken goaltender Chris Driedger said. “Our group’s working towards some real positive things, and we’ve just got to make the next step.”

The Canucks have won the first three games between the teams and will look to sweep the season series. In the only previous meeting in Vancouver, the Canucks won 5-2 on Feb. 21 as Tyler Motte had a goal and an assist.

–Field Level Media