VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks’ season-long six-game homestand started with a gut-punching overtime loss.
It ended the exact same way.
Mike Richards scored late in regulation before Anze Kopitar buried the winner 48 seconds into the extra period Monday as the Los Angeles Kings came back to stun the Vancouver Canucks 3-2.
The Canucks gave up a late goal in regulation in losing to 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks to kick off their homestand on Nov. 17, and a similar script played out against Los Angeles (16-6-3), with Richards scoring with 2:56 left to force OT.
“A couple mistakes are costing us,” said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin, who gave his team a 2-1 lead in the third period before the wheels fell off. “We’re playing so well defensively throughout the game and it seems like every time something late in games is costing us goals. It’s extremely tough to take.”
The Canucks have lost seven of their last eight, scoring just nine goals total in those defeats. They finished their homestand with an ugly 1-2-3 record, with the only victory coming in a 6-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“We’re really sticking together as a group and that’s all you can ask for,” said Sedin. “We should have had two points, but again we’re standing here talking about a loss.”
Vancouver (12-9-5) is now 0-9-4 when scoring two goals or less and fell to 1-4-3 versus Pacific Division rivals this season.
After Richards took a feed from Jeff Carter to tie the score with his sixth of the season, Kopitar beat Luongo upstairs for his seventh of the campaign as the Kings picked up at least a point for a 10th straight game (7-0-3).
“We’ve just gotta scrape and claw for points, and that’s what we did tonight,” said Richards. “It wasn’t the prettiest on our part. We took too many penalties, and we turned some pucks over, but two points is what we wanted.”
Kyle Clifford also scored for Los Angeles, which got 37 saves from Ben Scrivens.
“It’s a big goal to force it to overtime, and any time you can take it to overtime you give yourself a chance,” said Scrivens. “We’ll take the two points.”
Chris Tanev had the other goal for Vancouver, which dominated the Northwest Division for years but is finding re-aligment to be a much tougher test.
“It’s a 60-minute game,” said Luongo, who finished with 19 saves. “We did some good things, especially in the second half of that game, but obviously we fell short again.”
Despite the loss, Canucks head coach John Tortorella continued to stress the positives as his team continues to struggle to get results under his new puck-pressure system.
“I’m very excited about some of the things that happened tonight. You may call me crazy, but I am,” said Tortorella. “We’ve just got to keep banging away and work on some details of the game, understand situational play and keep working at this.”
Vancouver’s 28th-ranked power play was a miserable 0 for 7 on the night before Sedin beat Scrivens with a quick shot on the Canucks’ eighth man advantage to snap a 1-1 tie at 6:59.
Down 1-0 after the first period, Vancouver found some life after Sedin took a big hit from Jordan Nolan midway through the second. Sedin stayed down for a moment but didn’t miss a shift.
The play woke the Canucks up and they started to take the body more, with Ryan Stanton eventually dropping the gloves with Nolan.
“I thought we took the game over after the hit with Henrik,” said Tortorella. “I thought we were acting properly as a team and took the game over, scored on a power play, did all the right things.
“We didn’t finish the game. Need to finish the game.”
After Vancouver killed off a penalty from the scrum that accompanied that fight, Tanev fired a harmless looking shot from the point that Scrivens could only get a piece of to tie the score with his first of the season at 17:04.
The Canucks had plenty of opportunities with the man advantage earlier in the period—including a 5-on-3 and two short 4-on-3s—but the disjointed unit continued to struggle.
Another Kings penalty late in the period gave the Canucks another chance. But Scrivens, who has been stellar in place of injured Kings starter Jonathan Quick, was there to shut the door when called upon as Vancouver outshot L.A. 13-2.
After the Canucks gave up a number of odd-man rushes in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, including Marcus Kruger’s winner in the third period, the Kings opened the scoring Monday on their third 2-on-1 of the night at 13:50 of the first period.
With both fourth lines on the ice, feathered a pass to Clifford, who made a nice backhand move to beat a sprawling Luongo for his second goal of the season.
The Canucks now hit the road for four games, starting with a game against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
“Part of my job is to make sure that the psyche of the hockey club, in these types situations, stays solid,” said Tortorella. “I trust the group. I do. I think the players understand how we want to play, our concept.
“We’ve gone through a lot crap here, as far as things going wrong at certain times but I think they’ve handled themselves well and we’re just going to stay with them and keep on working at it.”
Notes: Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin lost a tooth to a high stick early in the second period. … Tanev now has three goals in 118 career games. … Quick injured his groin on Nov. 12 and is expected to be out until late December. … Carter returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a foot injury. … Canucks forward David Booth returned to the lineup after sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch. … Monday was the second of five meetings between the two teams this season. The Kings down the Canucks 5-1 at Staples Center on Nov. 9. … The Kings visit the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.