BOSTON -- Death. Taxes. And the Canucks playing horribly in Boston.
TD Garden has been a house of horrors for the Canucks for more than a decade, and it was again Thursday night as the Bruins dominated in a 4-0 win, highlighted by a pair of shorthanded goals and two tallies in 49 seconds to start the second period.
"These are big-time games," Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet told reporters postgame. "(Brad) Marchand and (David) Pastrnak are great players, and they showed up. We've got to have that kind of thing. Now, listen, it's our first (regulation) loss in I don't know how many games, 13 or 14 , so I can't get too critical. But these are big games, so you'd like to see a little bit better from some guys. The shorthanded goals are really something you cannot do in big, critical games. You just can't."
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It was a game that evoked painful memories for Canucks fans. It was 13 years ago that the Canucks lost three times and were outscored 17-3 playing in Boston during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, a series they lost at home in Game 7 to close out one of the most intense playoff series of all time.
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Thursday's game even featured some familiar sights that fill up highlight reels of the 2011 Cup Final.
One of them was a shorthanded goal from Brad Marchand, which got the Bruins on the board just 32 seconds into the game. Marchand scored a memorable shorty in Game 3 of the 2011 series. It was one of his five goals over seven games.
Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko gave up four goals in the first 21 minutes of action. In fairness, his teammates didn't give him a ton of help, but the Canucks needed a few clutch saves to halt Boston's momentum and they didn't get any. Bad goaltending was a major issue for Vancouver in its losses at the Garden in 2011.
Another similarity between the 2011 final and Thursday's game was the Canucks' stars playing poorly.
After scoring a goal in his Canucks debut Tuesday, top-six center Elias Lindholm was held without a point and tallied zero shots in 14:11 of ice time. Elite center Elias Pettersson also was scoreless with zero shots. Both Lindholm and Petterson were on the ice for all four Boston goals.
Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, who's arguably the favorite for the Norris Trophy, played his worst period of the season to begin the game. His back-check (or lack thereof) on Boston's second goal, scored by Danton Heinen, left a lot to be desired. Hughes entered Thursday leading all NHL defensemen with 64 points in 50 games. But he also was held without a point.
Back in 2011, the Canucks' top-three forwards -- Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler -- combined to score one only goal with two assists over the final five games. Boston won four of those matchups.
Thursday's loss was just one of 82 games for the Canucks in what has been a stellar regular season for the franchise. They are tied with the Bruins atop the league standings (73 points) and still lead the Western Conference. Vancouver's plus-56 goal differential is easily No. 1 in the league. The Canucks also are one of two teams (along with the B's) that ranks top six in both goals scored and goals against at even strength.
The Canucks are clearly a very good team.
But Thursday's game was a good reminder for them that it's hard to beat disciplined teams like the Bruins on the road, which is what they'll face on a nightly basis come playoff time. The Canucks have a good road record at 16-8-3, but they've already lost to several contending teams away from home, including the Bruins, Stars, Lightning, Avalanche and Maple Leafs.
Vancouver was passive, lacked energy, didn't show up physically, gave up two shorthanded goals and put up little resistance in the third period. Those things are what's most concerning in a game like this for the Canucks.
The Canucks do have enough talent to make a deep playoff run this spring, even all the way to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2011. But to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup, they need their best players to show up versus veteran, battle-tested opponents -- like the Bruins -- that are difficult to play against.