The Vancouver Canucks were rolling Monday night with a 3-0 lead over the lowly New York Islanders heading into the third period. When the puck dropped for the final frame, however, it was the Islanders doing the rolling. In fact, it was a steam-rolling.
The Islanders exploded for seven goals in the third period including four within the first 6:22 of the period to take a 4-3 lead. After the Canucks tied it back up, the Islanders answered 10 seconds later and proceeded to score twice more including an empty-netter to skate away with a stunning 7-4 win.
It was a complete and utter meltdown on The Canucks' behalf. After the game, it seemed like one of those nights were head coach John Tortorella would be breathing fire in the press conference. Instead, it was subdued. Really subdued.
Tortorella gave reasoned, lengthy responses, but explained to reporters that the game really stung.
“Somehow we've got to put this behind us, but it's not going to be easy,” he said. “That's a tough loss for us.”
“This is a kick in the teeth,” he said. “It's certainly going to take a little bit more than the regular coach's speak, but we're going to get by it.”
Players weren't making any excuses after the game either.
"I'm blown away,” Canucks forward Ryan Kesler told reporters after the game (via Sporting News). “Seven goals in the third period, two points we need, giving up a 3-0 lead, them scoring a fourth one, us battling back ... then 10 seconds later they go back up? I mean, It's the National Hockey League. It can't happen.
"You've gotta give them credit, but let's be honest — that's not one of the top teams in the league. They battled hard, they played hard, but being up 3-0 and blowing it like that, it's embarrassing."
The Canucks are in free fall right now and have been since the turn of the year. A win over Calgary Saturday and a hot start to Monday night's game made it seem like they were going to turn the corner, but this third-period collapse could be a major setback for a team that is starting to get left behind in the Western Conference.