Flyers stifle to end Canucks' nine-game point streak
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks have talked about the need to stay focused recently while leading a surprising charge in the NHL standings.
And the Philadelphia Flyers took advantage of distraction on Thursday night.
A three-goal flurry late in the second period allowed the Flyers to ease to a 4-1 win and snap the Canucks' nine-game point streak. Egor Zamula, Sean Walker and Joel Farabee all netted goals across a span of two minutes and six seconds to break open the scoring.
Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet was unequivocal in his opinion of his team's performance.
"We’re all disappointed in the loss, we've just got to make sure this doesn’t fester," he said.
Defenceman Ian Cole agreed with his head coach's assessment of the team's performance, adding that opponents will look to knock the Canucks off their perch in the standings.
"We need to realize when games are going to be hard we can’t turn pucks over, we can’t regress, let’s just say that," he said.
"We have to continue to be better. It’s a lesson we need to learn especially if were not feeling our best, not feeling our energy, whatever it may be, we can’t regress to a bad game."
The Canucks had 10 giveaways over the course of the game, allowing the Flyers multiple scoring chances against netminder Casey DeSmith.
Garnet Hathaway added the other for Philadelphia (19-11-4), which snapped a two-game losing skid.
Teddy Blueger had the lone response for Vancouver (23-10-3), which entered the contest having gone 7-0-2 in its last nine games.
DeSmith stopped 21 shots in his sixth career start against the Flyers.
Canucks captain Quinn Hughes, who had an assist on Blueger's goal, said his team knows what needs to be fixed to avoid losing two in a row.
"It’s pretty easy," he said. "We’ve got a couple days here and practices should be hard paced.
"This is a group that’s motivated. We’re not going to have to work about not being ready for the next game."
Zamula opened the scoring at 15:03 of the second period on a wrist shot from the point.
Owen Tippet dove and found an open Walker with a cross-ice pass to double the lead at 16:24.
"To be honest, nobody was really thinking that Tippett was gonna be able to make that play over to me," Walker said.
Vancouver defenceman Nikita Zadorov went to lead an attack but was pickpocketed, with Farabee later finishing off the play at 17:03.
"We just kind of played patient, waited for our opportunities, you get a couple of quick ones there, it builds that momentum and you just go from there," said Farabee after the game.
Vancouver sought a way back into the game with Dakota Joshua driving up ice and finding an open Blueger, who scored his fifth of the season 25 seconds into the third period.
Hathaway extinguished any hopes of a comeback with a short-handed goal after DeSmith gave up a rebound off the forward's initial shot, allowing Hathaway to score on the second chance.
The Flyers had the better of the scoring chances in the opening period and outshot the Canucks 13-7.
"Bad first period," Tocchet said. "We weren’t invested. They came at us and we didn’t have any push."
Canucks defenceman Carson Soucy partook in Thursday's morning skate and is in contention to play in Vancouver's next game … Thursday's contest against Vancouver was Flyers coach John Tortorella's 1,499th in the NHL … It was Zadorov's 600th career NHL game … Former Canucks forward Markus Naslund, whose number was retired in 2010, attended Thursday's game … Vancouver's Conor Garland wore a neckguard in the loss one day after wearing one in practice and saying he thought the uptake would increase.
Vancouver will host the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 2, 2024.
Philadelphia travels to Seattle to play the Kraken on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2023.