Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack allows the winning goal to Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby in Vancouver, on Tuesday Jan. 7, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Darryl Dyck
VANCOUVER - A new year that has got off to a bad start took a strange twist for the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
Coach John Tortorella could only shake his head after watching his team give up two goals 16 seconds apart in the last 1:11 of the third period, then lose 5-4 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a NHL shootout.
"This one was a doozy," said Tortorella.
That's one word for it anyway.
The Canucks had erased a two-goal deficit and led 4-2 with 6:26 left in the third. Then the roof caved in on Vancouver. Again.
It was the Canucks' fifth consecutive loss. Vancouver has blown third-period leads in four of those games. The Canucks have also been outshot in their last four games, including giving up 49 shots to each Los Angeles and Anaheim over the weekend.
The Canucks keep finding different ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
"It's happening way too many times," said captain Henrik Sedin. "We should have at least five of six more points right now.
"This is where we are at. We have to take a look at it and see what we are doing wrong."
Vancouver lost five games during a 10-day stretch in November but got back on track to roll through December with a 10-1-1 streak. Things went off the rails with a 4-3 shootout at home to Philadelphia on Dec. 30. The Canucks have yet to win in 2014.
"It's too many points being lost late in the game," said Daniel Sedin. "We are a good team that should be able to play with the lead.
"It's happening too many times for it to be acceptable."
At one point, with Vancouver trailing 2-0, the Rogers Arena fans began booing as the Canucks sat back and watched the Penguins bring the puck out of their own end. Those jeers later turned to cheers as goaltender Eddie Lack twice robbed Pittsburgh's Kris Letang.
The Canucks looked to be in control of the game after Jason Garrison, Chris Tanev, Chris Higgins and Zack Kassian scored consecutive goals. The Penguins tied the game on goals from Letang and Sidney Crosby with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on the bench. Crosby also scored in the shootout.
The Canucks have given up six goals this season when the opposition has pulled its goalie.
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa said the late losses are taking their toll on the team's confidence.
"It seems like we are in control and doing the right things,' he said. "With a minute or two left, bad things are happening. It's almost contagious.
"When you get scored on this many times in the last minute of the game it doesn't feel good. It's in the back of your mind. I'm not too worried. I think we will get out of it."
Vancouver remains seventh in the NHL's Western Conference with a 23-13-9 record for 55 points. Even during the losing skid the Canucks have managed to pick up three points in overtime or shootouts.
"The state of our team right now, we just have to try to get the positives and build off it," said Tortorella. "We played much better (Tuesday).
"We didn't close out the game. We just have to keep working at it here and try to be a better club in those situations."
The Canucks used a patch-work lineup against the Pens. Minor leaguers Darren Archibald and Benn Ferriero were in the lineup while both David Booth and Dale Weise sat in the press box.
Not playing due to injuries was goaltender Roberto Luongo (ankle), defenceman Alex Edler (knee), defenceman Ryan Stanton (ankle), defenceman Andrew Alberts (concussion), right-winger Alex Burrows (broken jaw) and centre Jordan Schroeder (ankle).
Tortorella wasn't looking for excuses.
"There is no sense whining about it," he said. "We just have to try to get better as a team."