Despite breaking a lengthy scoring drought that stretched to nearly eight periods, the Vancouver Giants are one step closer to missing the post-season yet again.
The Giants dropped a 5-3 decision to the Tri-City Americans on Monday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre, losing for the 11th time in the past dozen games.
The defeat dropped the Giants to 18-35-2-3 and the team is 22 points back of the final Western Conference wild-card playoff berth with 14 Western Hockey League games remaining.
Vancouver found itself tied at 2-2 after 20 minutes as they twice battled back from one-goal deficits.
But while the Giants had some chances in the second period, they couldn’t capitalize and the Americans made them pay, scoring twice in the final five minutes for a 4-2 lead.
Each team scored once in the third.
Morgan Geekie opened the scoring for Tri-City less than five minutes in on the power-play, which became a five-on-three with Calvin Spencer down and out of the play after blocking a shot.
But Jordan Borstmayer scored the Giants first goal in 158:34 taking a pass from Brendan Semchuk and wiring the puck home.
The goal came off a turnover created by a big hit on the side boards by Bartek Bison, which lodged the puck loose.
“It was huge, just to know that we are able to put a puck into the net after going two games without a goal. Unfortunately it just didn’t lead to enough in tonight’s game,” Borstmayer said.
The Giants were coming off back-to-back shutout losses to the Kelowna Rockets and had not scored since the second period of the previous game against Prince George.
Borstmayer said that the goal-scoring drought was in the back of their minds, no matter how much they tried not to think about it.
“As a team we are just looking to do the little things that ultimately add up to a goal and I think that is what the team is focusing on, those little things to be successfully offensively,” he said.
The Americans made it 2-1 during four-on-four as Dylan Coghlan scored on a one-timer short-side on Kubic.
Vancouver would even things up on a power play with Ryan Jones teeing it up for Semchuk, who hammered the puck high and past Parenteau.
McKee thought the team played well in the second period but the Giants were outshot 21-4 in the frame and outscored 2-0.
“I thought we had a ton of good chances and we didn’t cash in on them,” said Giants coach Jason McKee.
“They are a real good team, they have a lot of high-end scorers and had us running at times tonight.
“But we had them running too and unfortunately we didn’t score and they did.”
Riley Sawchuk and Parker AuCoin had the only two goals of the second period.
“If we get a couple different bounces, we just miss by a little bit and if some of those go in the back of the net, we are looking at the second period with a different mindset,” Borstmayer added.
Eighty-four seconds into the third period, the Giants would cut the lead to within one when Taden Rattie stole the puck down low to create a two-on-zero with Owen Hardy, dishing to the birthday boy who tapped in the puck behind Americans goaltender Rylan Parenteau.
But Jordan Topping restored the two-goal lead seven minutes later and Vancouver never threatened again.
The final shots on goal were 40-21 in favour of the Americans with Ryan Kubic making several lunging stops to keep his team in the game.
McKee liked his goaltender’s game, adding that the defence did not do a good enough job of moving their opponents out of his line of sight.
Offensively, there were things McKee liked but he also saw some bad habits creeping back into their game.
“We tried to beat them one-on-one and you look at that D-core and that is not going to happen too often,” he said.
“We have to use our teammates more and put the puck in areas we can get it back.”
“It is just the little things that are killing us.
“If we can clean up our game, clean up our d zone and get the systems down pat, we will be a good hockey team,” Borstmayer said.
After playing seven games in the past 13 days, the Giants are now off until Friday when they host the Kamloops Blazers at the LEC at 7:30 p.m.