At the beginning of April, the Vancouver Canucks didn’t have much of a shot of getting back into the race for a playoff position. But after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, Vancouver rattled off six-straight victories, catapulting them to within striking distance of not only a wild card spot but potentially the third seed in the Pacific Division. However, after consecutive losses to the Ottawa Senators and Minnesota Wild, it’s all but killed any playoff aspirations for them.
Despite earning a point against Ottawa earlier in the week and still going 6-1-1 over their last eight contests, the Canucks are in a tough spot with just four games remaining on the season. Back-to-back losses against the Senators and Wild have put the Canucks four points back of the Dallas Stars for the final wild-card spot and seven points back of the Los Angeles Kings, who have won three straight of their own, while Vegas sits two points ahead of them. Things could have looked vastly different had the Canucks found a way to keep their winning streak alive.
Canucks Lose Critical Point to Senators
The Senators halted the Canucks’ six-game winning streak with a 4-3 shootout victory back on Tuesday, taking a critical point away from Vancouver. But even with the loss, the Canucks had still collected points in seven-straight contests, going 6-0-1 over that stretch, and were within a closer range of the Kings, Stars and Golden Knights. But it wasn’t that they lost to Ottawa; it was how they lost.
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The Canucks at one point led 2-0, but three unanswered goals by the Senators put the Canucks behind the eight ball. At the 6:27 mark of the third period, defenseman Travis Dermott knotted the game up at three, scoring his first goal as a Canuck. Nothing was solved in overtime, so the contest went to a shootout. After J.T. Miller broke the ice and gave Vancouver the upper hand, Thatcher Demko had the chance to play hero on the final shooter, Drake Batherson, after entering the contest for Jaroslav Halak, who left with an upper-body injury after the first period. Batherson scored to tie it up, and two shooters later, Adam Gaudette finished it off for the Sens.
That then carried into Thursday night against the Wild in Minnesota.
Backbreaking Defeat to Wild Hinders Playoff Hopes
This was one of the games I had circled as a potential loss, but there was always a chance the Canucks could pull through for a big win. In fact, they had done it over the last calendar month with massive wins over the Golden Knights, Stars and Colorado Avalanche. But there is something about the Wild, who have defeated Vancouver in all three matchups this season. On Thursday night, they delivered a backbreaking 6-3 defeat to the Canucks, hindering their playoff hopes.
Elias Pettersson recognized the importance of that game and how badly they wanted it. “Close game, could have gone either way. Everybody tried their best, everybody knew what was on the line, everybody played and worked their hardest.” You could hear the disappointment in his voice and that he knew they understood the magnitude of the contest, knowing there’s little time left to gain ground.
Vancouver’s Remaining Schedule
The Canucks have just four games remaining in the hopes of catching one of the Stars or Golden Knights for a playoff berth. The Kings seem to have pulled away enough to be just out of reach, so Vancouver’s remaining schedule will determine everything. Not just due to the fact that there are only four games left, but it’s who the Canucks play the rest of the way.
It starts Saturday when the Canucks travel to take on the Calgary Flames. They’ve actually played the Flames well, going 1-1-1 over their first three meetings while taking three of the first four points over their first two contests. However, Calgary is 8-1-1 over their last 10 contests, all while clinching the Pacific Division on Thursday evening. Over the final week, they’ll be taking on the Seattle Kraken and Kings at home before finishing the season on the road against the Edmonton Oilers.
If the Canucks have any chance of clinching a playoff berth, they’ll most likely need to win out. It’s not impossible, as they’re just coming off a six-game winning streak, but games against the Flames, Kings and Oilers will be no easy task. We will see how it all unfolds over the final stretch.