MONTREAL – This isn’t exactly how Alex Burrows envisioned returning to his home province.
The Vancouver Canucks forward, a native of Pincourt, Que., was ejected and given a five-minute cross-checking major on Montreal defenceman Patrice Brisebois in a 3-0 loss to the Canadiens on Tuesday night.
Burrows was penalized at 13:27 of the second period and Montreal scored on the ensuing power play to go ahead 2-0. Afterwards, Burrows took it pretty hard.
“At first I thought he was getting a penalty,” said Burrows. “But five minutes and a game, I thought it was a lot.
“I felt like I let the team down, they got their second goal and they ran with the wind.”
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault didn’t fault Burrows, calling referee Stephane Auger’s decision to call a major penalty “questionable.”
And that wasn’t the only officiating decision Vigneault questioned. The game appeared to turn on the Canucks’ inability to capitalize on a two-minute 5-on-3 advantage late in the first. The situation was compounded when Tomas Plekanec scored on a breakaway when he came out of the penalty box to make it 1-0 for the Canadiens.
On the play, Canadiens captain Saku Koivu stripped Kyle Wellwood of the puck, then dove to poke it up to Plekanec, just beating Kevin Bieksa to the puck. But then Koivu, lying on the ice, swung his stick and took out Bieksa’s legs as he was trying to get back on the play.
Vigneault thought that non-call, and not the inability to score on the 5-on-3, was the turning point in the game.
“To me it was the missed call when they scored that first goal, it’s a clear trip,” Vigneault said. “Saku clearly takes Kevin’s legs out, everybody sees it, the referees saw it and didn’t call it.
“I don’t know why.”
Later, Vigneault admitted the missed opportunity on the two-man power play really hurt his club. He blamed lethargic play by his players as a reason for their inability to score.
“It was just too slow,” he said. “You’ve got to move that around, make three or four passes and get something to the net.
“We were just very slow moving the puck.”
Tuesday’s game was Vancouver’s fourth straight on the road and seven of its last eight. The Canucks came out of that stretch with six wins but Vigneault felt his team played its best in the two losses.
“I thought we played well enough to get the win here tonight but we didn’t and sometimes that happens,” Vigneault said. “We played eight games in eight different cities and found a way to win six of them.
“I was just saying to the guys that probably the two best games we played on this trip were Dallas and Montreal, and we lost both of them.”