Matt Moulson’s goal with five minutes remaining in the second period was not enough offense for the Islanders as they lost 4-1 to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night at the Rogers Center. Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo earned is 200th win with the club.
“They skate pretty well and they had some good zone time,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said of the Canucks. “They puck protected, but a lot of their shots early on were on the power play. They moved around pretty well.”
He added, “We had chances to move our feet in certain situations, but we continued to turn pucks over in the neutral zone and we made it a short track game for them. Again, we weren’t as physical on their D as we needed to be.”
On the third shift of the game (1:57), winger David Booth carried the puck around the back of the net and passed through the slot to a skating Aaron Rome, whose backhand brought the puck low blocker side on Nabokov for a 1-0 lead. Then, off a wrist shot through the high slot, Henrik Sedin scored the second goal of the game for the Canucks at 34 seconds of the second period.
With 5:00 left in the second period, John Tavares used his body and speed to bring the puck into the offensive zone, handed it off to Michael Grabner who made a sliding pass back to Tavares while driving towards the paint. Moulson grabbed the rebound for the conversion and cut the Canucks lead to 2-1.
Moulson’s first attempt hit the crossbar before he grabbed the rebound and snaked it in through a hole between Luongo’s pad and the goal at 15:09.
The Islanders found more of their footing in the third period. Grabner started the team off with a laser, but Luongo made a butterfly glove save. Travis Hamonic and Mark Streit each had an opportunity on one drive, but Luongo slid from post to post to make back-to-back saves.
“When our D were active in the third, when Streiter got up in the play, Andrew MacDonald got up and Travis, we created some offense and that’s what this team has to do,” Capuano said. “Right now, it’s consistently the Tavares line that’s putting the puck in the net for us.”
The Canucks scored their lone power play goal at 2:47 of the third as Rome took a wrist shot from the high slot, which ricocheted off a few players before Cody Hodgson tapped the puck for the deflection, helping Vancouver regain their two-goal lead, 3-1.
“There’s no excuse,” Capuano said. “We have to finish our checks. We have to be more physical. We have to get pucks in deep.”
Trying to spark some additional offense with an extra skater, Capuano pulled Evgeni Nabokov at 16:20, but Booth provided the final margin with an empty net goal at 16:59.
“We have to find the will to win,” Capuano said. “We can talk a good game. The players can talk a good game, but we have to find a will to compete every night. At some point, if it doesn’t, then our lineups going to have to change and other guys are going to have to get an opportunity. But right now, you have to dig deep and find a way to win a hockey game.”