Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis recently sent out a letter urging the franchise’s legion of passionate fans to be patient as the team is "enduring a challenging period."
The team had slipped to 10th in the Western Conference, and Gillis undoubtedly felt the wrath of many fans after the recent trade of goalie Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers with eight years remaining on a 12-year deal. And oh, let’s not forget Vancouver had already shipped promising 26-year-old goalie Cory Schneider to the Devils last summer, leaving many to believe the job belonged to Luongo for the long haul.
And then Monday night happened. That patience that Gillis pleaded for was pushed to the limit, and beyond, and then drilled into the ground.
The Canucks came into the contest with an opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January. For 40 minutes, everything was on track. Heading into the third period of a matchup with the Islanders — themselves playing with seven rookies in their lineup, playing without star captain John Tavares (lost for the season to a knee injury suffered at the Sochi Olympics), and sitting in last place in the Metropolitan Division — the Canucks held what many fans hoped would be a comfortable 3-0 lead with goalie Eddie Lack in net.
Then the Islanders’ Josh Bailey scored on a power play at 1:13. OK, no big deal. 3-1.
Then Ryan Strome scored on another power play at 3:14. Now it’s 3-2 . . . and time to start worrying.
Twenty-two seconds later, and the unthinkable became a reality — the game was already tied at 3-3 with a Calvin de Haan goal, on yes, another power play.
And then the flood gates opened, the wheels fell off and seemingly everyone on the Islanders wanted to get into the act.
Frans Nielsen scored at 6:22. And while Canucks fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Chris Tanev tied it at 4-4 at 9:54, that feeling was short-lived.
Just 10 seconds later, New York’s Matt Martin scored for a 5-4 lead. Anders Lee scored at 11:45. And just for kicks, Cal Clutterbuck decided to twist the knife with the team’s seventh goal. On the bright side, at least Lack wasn’t in net for that one — it was an empty-netter with just 18 seconds left to play.
Seven goals from seven different players in one period.
Only five teams since 1987-88 have allowed that many goal-scorers in one period. The last time it happened? Also against the Canucks, when the Red Wings had seven players score a goal in the 3rd period on Nov. 27, 1998.
Vancouver, meanwhile, was dealt their 12th loss in 14 games in one of the most painful ways possible.
The Canucks won back-to-back President’s Trophies in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. In 2011, Vancouver fell one win short of the Stanley Cup, losing the Final in seven games to Boston. It’s been a short, but very hard fall for these Canucks and a tough pill to swallow for one of the most passionate fan bases in hockey.
That patience that Gillis pleaded for? Well, just look at the responses on Twitter to this debacle: