Since being acquired in January, Justin Samra likely played his best game between the pipes as a Junior Canuck in Game 2 of the best-of-five first round series between Dawson Creek and Fairview.
But a lack of run support now leaves the Canucks’ season hanging in the balance after a 3-0 Flyers shutout on Saturday at Memorial Arena sets them up to sweep the series, Wednesday at home.
“You can pitch all day but if the bats aren’t hitting, you are done for, and that was the case all night,” said Canucks head coach Eric Fulton. “It’s not so much our bats weren’t making good contact I felt their fielding was much better than ours.”
The Canucks outshot the Flyers 31-25, but Fairview had better looks at the cage creating a bevy of odd-man rushes, getting to Samra’s net.
Apart from two first period goals scored just seconds apart, and the Flyers late third period goal that he would of liked back, Samra was hands down the best Canuck on the ice.
But as has been the case lately for the Canucks, whose losing streak now extends to ten games, they struggled once again producing any good looks.
“I thought it was a good game, we just didn’t have the next gear it takes to get to the net and to loose pucks to bear down when we had to bear down,” said Fulton. “They [Fairview] got in tight and put the puck where it needed to be. We got in tight and we stand up straight…and don’t get the puck where it has to go.”
After Samra stopped a flurry of Flyers’ chances, Brennan Romanovitch’s third whack at the loose puck squeaked past Samra, putting the Flyers up 1-0 midway through the first.
Thirty seconds after that, Khalin Marsolais beat Samra top shelf on a 2-on-1-break set up by Cory Cox and Kade Helgeson to give the Flyers a quick 2-0 lead.
After a scoreless second period, the Canucks missed several good opportunities on the man advantage, failing to solve Flyers goaltender C.J. Wass, who stopped all 31 shots he faced.
The Flyers third came late in the final frame when Marc-etienne Giguere beat Samra glove side to make it a 3-0 final – and that was the ball game.
“I thought our powerplay got a lot of chances, just again no puck presence in front of the net,” noted Fulton on his team’s inability to score the puck.
“We’re perimeter guys. On the 3-on-2 we have one guy driving the puck and two others setting up for a nice shot – you can’t do that. We don’t drive the center lane at all. Not one player does it consistently where they push the defence back or camp out in front of their net and find some real estate and own it.
“[Fairview] owned the front of their net tonight and for the most part, owned the front of our net,” added Fulton.
In Game 1 on Friday in Fairview, the Flyers foiled the Canucks with a three-goal second period, while outshooting the ‘Nucks 18-5 in the frame, eventually leading to a 5-1 Flyers win.
Already down 1-0, the Canucks came out on their heels in the second allowing three straight in less than three minutes to give the Flyers a commanding 4-0 lead.
“What’s going to help us, it’s going to be doing those little things that we just can’t seem to find. We had opportunities they had opportunities. They buried their opportunities we didn’t,” said Fulton regarding the back-to-back series losses.
“Our guys right now – since Christmas – have struggled to do things right sometimes. The most frustrating part is you know it’s in there it’s just not coming out. You can only be in the cocoon for so long and you know how it’s going to work if we don’t break out.”
The Canucks and Flyers resume play on Wednesday in Fairview where the Canucks will attempt to keep their season alive.