The building was charged, and the bench was revved up.
The players on the ice? Not so much.
If emotion plays a role in the outcome of sporting contests, the Vancouver Canucks proved otherwise in a 4-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
The Canucks began the evening with a special pre-game ceremony for deceased forward Rick Rypien, and a sellout crowd of 18,860 welcomed centre Ryan Kesler back from injury with a loud ovation upon his first shift. But neither of those things seemed to matter in their second home game of the 2011-12 NHL season.
The Canucks spent too much time in their own end to start the first period, then were waylaid by four goals in the third period. Michael Rupp, Ryan McDonagh, Brian Boyle and Marian Gaborik scored for the Blueshirts while goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves for his 36th career shutout in the NHL.
The Canucks had eight fruitless power-play chances and directed 81 shots towards the goal, but the Rangers blocked 23 of them and Lundqvist did the rest. After the game, King Henrik was wearing a black felt fedora that the team picked up during its foray to Europe earlier this month, and presents to its player-of-the-game after each win.
“I’m going to hope to wear it after every win,” Lundqvist said.
Roberto Luongo allowed three goals on six shots in the fateful third, and received some sarcastic cheers when he made a stop late in the third period. Luongo was making back-to-back starts for the first time this season after splitting the first four contests with backup Cory Schneider.
“He’s strong mentally,” captain Henrik Sedin said of Luongo. “And we’re a team that doesn’t focus on what outsiders are saying. If we did that, there would be a lot of guys who would have buckled by now.”
Kesler said the game was a “stepping stone” and added that his timing was off in his first competitive action since June. He missed the first five contests this season recovering from hip surgery, and said he expected to be better Thursday against the Nashville Predators.
The tribute to Rypien, meanwhile, drew a standing ovation and left many fans wiping tears from their eyes. His family was presented with a game-worn sweater from last season, Rypien’s last in Vancouver before signing with Winnipeg this summer, and a four-minute video included many photos from his youth, and footage from his days with the Canucks.
Rypien took his own life in August after a long battle with depression. The Canucks announced Tuesday that they will make a $50,000 to the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation to develop a website on mental illness.
Notes: The visitors entered the game with a 0-1-2 record and had several trouble spots staring them in the face. Earlier this week, head coach John Tortorella abruptly cut-off questioning about the team’s extensive travel schedule this month. With Madison Square Garden undergoing renovations, the Blushirts are starting on an extended road trip of seven games. The swing started in Stockholm, Sweden and stopped in Long Island on its way to the Canadian west coast. The Rangers face Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg this week before finally getting a home game on Oct. 27. By that time, they will have travelled more than 16,000 miles. Tuesday, they began the game 0-for-12 with the man advantage and squandered four opportunities against the Canucks. New York and Winnipeg are the only two NHL teams still seeking a power-play goal this year.