VANCOUVER – Goalie Cory Schneider fell on the sword for his teammates after the Vancouver Canucks dropped a 4-2 home-ice decision Tuesday night to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Always accountable, Schneider stood in front of his dressing room stall and said, essentially, blame me.
He was probably being a little hard on himself. Yes, Schneider could have been better, but he had lots of company among his Canuck teammates in that department.
“I’m just getting sick of giving up three goals a night and playing like an okay goalie and not the goalie that I know I can be and that my teammates expect to be,” Schneider said.
He was particularly upset about Antoine Vermette’s goal at 12:32 of the third that gave the Coyotes a 3-1 lead. Schneider got a piece of the shot, but it trickled though his pads.
“You have to find a way (to) make that big save late in the third,” Schneider said. “You get most of it, but it hits your pad and goes in. It’s bad luck, but almost isn’t good enough right now.
“There have been a lot of almosts lately and I’m just tried of it. I have to be better, I have to find a way to get back down to one, two goals a game like we’re used to and the team plays well enough to do, and right now it’s just not happening and I have to figure out why.”
Henrik Sedin, playing in his 600th straight game, made things interesting when he tipped a shot by his brother Daniel past Phoenix goalie Mike Smith to make it 3-2 at 13:36 of the third. But the Coyotes iced the game with Kyle Chipchura’s empty-netter with 23 seconds remaining in the third.
Coach Alain Vigneault said others had to share the blame with Schneider.
“This is a team game,” Vigneault said. “I mean, we have to score more than two goals and we need to do a better job of defending on certain occasions. Tonight a couple of turnovers in our end cost us the first two goals and the third one we mishandled the puck at their blueline and they came down in an out-numbered situation that led to a breakaway and the guy scored.”
Home ice suddenly isn’t an advantage for the Canucks, who have now lost three straight at Rogers Arena.
Phoenix clogged up the middle of the ice all night and when the Canucks did get a shot they had trouble reaching any rebounds.
“We knew what to expect and they played exactly the way we knew they would,” said Henrik Sedin. “It’s a grinding type of game and you can’t give up a whole lot of chances trying to make plays or trying to deke guys along their blue line. It’s about getting pucks deep and I thought we did a good job of that. It’s just a matter of getting some more goals.”
Goals have been tough to come by of late for Vancouver’s forwards. Defenceman Jason Garrison scored the other Vancouver goal on Tuesday night.
Like the Detroit Red Wings, who embarrassed the Canucks 8-3 on Sunday, Phoenix was missing some key regulars including injured forwards Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal and defenceman Derek Morris.
The Canucks fell to 10-5-4, which sounds okay until you realize they have now lost nearly as many games as they have won. Phoenix, which had suffered a pair of recent tough late losses in Calgary and Edmonton, improved to 9-7-3.
Vermette’s goal came after Mikkel Boedker got by Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler on the left boards and found Vermette in front.
Kyle Chipchura scored the only goal of the first period when he skated out from behind the net and beat Schneider with a backhand shot high to the glove side. Defenceman Andrew Alberts and centre Max Lapierre appeared to blow coverage on the play and allowed Chipchura to skate out front uncontested.
The Coyotes had three Grade A scoring chances early in the first. Vermette fired a shot off the post four minutes into the game after a perfect backdoor pass from defenceman Keith Yandle.
Less than a minute later, Schneider made a terrific glove save on Boedker and then a short time later stopped Boyd Gordon’s backhand from in close.
The Coyotes made it 2-0 midway through the second when Boedker beat Schneider glove side. The goal came when Lapierre attempted to block a David Rundblad shot. But the puck bounced off Lapierre’s skate and went directly to Boedker.
Garrison cut the Phoenix lead in half at 11:25, beating Smith with a long shot from the middle of the ice. Ryan Kesler made a nice play behind the net to get the puck back to Garrison, who scored his third of the season.
ICE CHIPS: Henrik’s ironman streak is the seventh longest in NHL history. Calgary defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, who has played 606 straight games, is the only active player with a longer streak than Henrik’s. . ,Defenceman Kevin Bieksa missed his second straight game with a sore groin. Winger David Booth returned after missing Sunday’s game in Detroit. Aaron Volpatti and Cam Barker were healthy scratches for Vancouver. . .The Canucks don’t play again until Saturday night, when the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings visit Rogers Arena.