Canucks suffer another dismal loss at home as Tkachuk, Panthers dominate

Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett (9) checks Vancouver Canucks' Curtis Lazar (20) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Thursday, December 1, 2022. (Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

VANCOUVER — Sam Bennett scored twice and the Florida Panthers ended a three-game skid with a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Matthew Tkachuk added a goal and a pair of assists, while Gustav Forsling, Ryan Lomberg and Sam Bennett all scored for the Panthers (11-9-4). Spencer Knight made 31 saves.

Dakota Joshua had the lone goal for the Canucks (9-12-3), who lost their second game in a row.

Vancouver also lost starting goalie Thatcher Demko on Thursday. The 26-year-old American stopped 15 of 18 shots in the first period before leaving the game with a lower-body injury.

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He was replaced by Spencer Martin, who made 13 saves.

A smattering of boos emanated from the crowd at Rogers Arena during the final seconds of the game. The jeers grew louder following the final whistle.

An ugly giveaway by Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes sealed the score midway through the third period.

The defenceman turned the puck over along the boards deep in Canucks’ territory, leaving Tkachuk and Bennett unmanned. Martin dived to stop Bennett’s ensuing wrist shot, but the puck sailed past him and the Panthers took a 5-1 lead 11:11 into the frame.

Vancouver got on the board 12:26 into the second period. The Canucks won a defensive zone faceoff and Joshua went streaking down the ice on a two-on-one, then sent a quick wrist shot sailing past Knight to make it 4-1.

Forty-eight seconds earlier, some slick passing led to a goal at the other end of the ice. Carter Verhaeghe and Tkachuk dished the puck back and forth across the slot before slicing it to Bennett, stationed backdoor for an easy tap-in.

Florida took a big lead into the first intermission following a 59-second long offensive outburst late in the frame.

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Tkachuk opened the scoring 18:14 into the first, sending a backhanded shot in from the slot for his 11th goal of the season.

Twenty-five seconds later, former Canuck Forsling scored with a one-timer through traffic to put the Panthers up 2-0. Sam Reinhart contributed an assist on the play to extend his point streak to five games.

Seconds later, Florida was once again on the attack, peppering the Vancouver net with shots. Demko stopped a shot from Patric Hornqvist, then grabbed his right leg as Lomberg batted in the rebound to give the visitors a 3-0 advantage.

The goalie stayed down in the crease while a trainer came out to look at him. Demko left the ice with the help of the trainer and teammate Ilya Mikheyev, putting no weight on his right leg.

The Canucks later tweeted that he would not return to the game.

POWER PLAY STRUGGLES

The Canucks went 0-for-3 with the man advantage and the Panthers were 0-for-2. Vancouver does not have a power-play goal in its last three outings.

MR. 900

Hornqvist played his 900th regular-season NHL game. He’s played for the Nashville Predators, Penguins and Panthers over 15 seasons and won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017.

LEGENDS RECOGNIZED

The Canucks held a pre-game ceremony to honour three former players who were recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Former goalie Roberto Luongo and forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin all stood at centre ice, watching video highlights from their careers before taking part in a ceremonial puck drop.

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UP NEXT

The Canucks continue a four-game homestand Saturday when they host the Arizona Coyotes. The Panthers face the Kraken in Seattle the same night.

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