VANCOUVER — With their NHL playoff hopes hovering between slim and none the Vancouver Canucks let a point slip away from them Friday night.
The Canucks held a two-goal lead early in the third period but let the New Jersey Devils battle back to tie the game, then win 3-2 on Damon Severson’s shootout goal.
“You want to close those games out,” said goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who stopped 31 shots. “We have to keep building, getting better as a team and close those games out.
“It’s tough when you’re up by two and lose in a shootout.”
Severson’s goal was his first in a shootout in four tries. It came on a forehand deke in the seventh round.
“I was lucky to have the guys call me tonight and be confident I was going to get the winner,” he said. “It was nice to see the puck go in.
“I did the move in practice the other day and scored, so I had to stick with it.”
The Devils forced the tie when Kevin Rooney and Stefan Noesen scored goals 7:53 apart in the third period.
It was New Jersey’s second win after going through an 0-6-1 stretch.
“I’m really happy for our guys,” said Devils coach John Hynes. “They battled back.
“It’s a credit to the guy in our room, the older guys, the leadership guys, because they set the culture.”
Even before the game started the Devils (27-36-9) were eliminated from playoff contention when the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. New Jersey is 14th in the Eastern Conference, six points behind the New York Rangers.
Rookie Elias Pettersson broke out of a scoring slump with his first goal in 12 games and Tanner Pearson scored on a strange play for the Canucks. Bo Horvat added two assists.
The Canucks (29-32-10) mathematically remain in the playoff hunt. They trail Arizona by nine points for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
Pettersson’s goal gives the 20-year-old Swede 59 points on the season with a team-leading 27 goals and 32 assists. That leaves him one point behind Pavel Bure and Ivan Hlinka for most points in a season by a Vancouver rookie.
Pettersson admitted the goal drought was frustrating.
“It’s been bugging me a little bit,” he said. “I have been trying to find a pass instead of shooting the puck. I have to be a little more selfish. I’m a guy that is always trying to find the pass first instead of the shot.
“It was a big relief when it went in.”
Pearson scored with 1:42 gone in the third on an innocent looking shot from the top of the face-off circle. New Jersey goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood swung his stick, but the puck seemed to go underneath and between his pads.
Rooney started the Devils' comeback with a deflection at 5:41. Noesen made it 2-2 at 13:34 when he chipped Eric Tangradi’s pass behind Markstrom.
“They got a couple of lucky bounces,” said Vancouver coach Travis Green. “It was that type of game.
“There wasn’t a lot of space on the ice for either team. They got a couple of pucks through to the net and got some rebounds. I don’t think either ream really outplayed each other.”
The injury bug took another bite out of the Canucks when defenceman Chris Tanev limped off the ice in the first period after blocking a Kyle Palmieri shot during a Devils power play. He returned for a brief skate but left the bench again.
Green said Tanev will be lost for the rest of the season with a suspected break.
Tanev was playing in just his second game back after missing 11 with an ankle injury.
NOTES: Canuck forward Jay Beagle didn’t take the pre-game skate and was replaced by Tim Schaller. … Canucks’ forward Antoine Roussel suffered a season-ended knee injury in Wednesday’s win over the Rangers. … The Canucks didn’t get their first shot on net until almost 6:30 was gone in the first period. … Entering the game, the Canucks (237) and Devils (293) had combined for 530-man games lost to injury.