The Goods: Edged in shootout
Meat Loaf said it best, Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad.
The Vancouver Canucks kicked off 2012 with their second loss in as many games as they dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the San Jose Sharks Monday night at Rogers Arena.
This was the third of four meetings between the Canucks and Sharks this season, with Vancouver having won the first two battles in San Jose, but a third consecutive win wasn’t in the cards.
The Canucks are happy to have earned a point.
Vancouver led 1-0 after 20 minutes off Jannik Hansen’s 12th goal of the season; San Jose responded with dominating play in the second period, including a pair of goals while comfortably outshooting the Canucks 17-7.
Pushback was needed from the home team, sporting a 2-0-1 record against the Sharks in their last three games at
Rogers Arena, and it came via a Cody Hodgson goal, his ninth, on the power play, midway through the frame.
In overtime both teams had quality scoring chances and a little puck luck either way would have ended the game.
Instead it went to the dreaded shootout with Michal Handzus scoring the only goal to win the game as the sixth and final shooter.
You can look at this one either way, but in the end the Canucks earned a point for winning two of three periods before succumbing to the Sharks in the one-on-one battle that doesn’t exist when hockey truly matters.
How the Canucks rebounded following a dismal second period has Vancouver holding its head high.
“We were alright all game, but in the third we came out harder and stronger and we were able to come back with a goal there,” assessed Henrik Sedin, who had a four-game
point streak snapped.
“There’s going to be ebb and flow throughout the game and they had the momentum in the second and we came back and I thought we took it back in the third.
“Two good teams, it was a hard fought game, we should have scored one or two more on the power play and that was the difference in the game.”
The Canucks finished 1-for-6 on the power play thanks to Hodgson finding the back of the net on the team’s final man advantage.
With a dropped period and zero luck on the power play, Roberto Luongo was forced to play larger than life in his eighth consecutive start. He finished with 33 saves, at least five
of which had the Sharks scratching their heads, in a dominant performance that was nearly enough to steal another point for Vancouver.
One goal games is becoming the norm between the Canucks and Sharks as this was the sixth straight contest decided by a single score; Vancouver has won four of six.
The Canucks played a total of 8:47 on the power play against the Sharks recording nine shots and the one goal.
That just isn’t good enough, as echoed by every Canucks player and coach Alain Vigneault post-game.
Making matters worse is Vancouver’s 2-for-21 efficiency over its last six games; the Canucks haven’t scored power play goals in consecutive games since December 8 and 10, 2011.
No sweat, said a cool as a cucumber Vigneault.
“You guys have been around a long time, you know that power plays are up and down. Right now we’re on one of those blimps where instead of being up, it’s a little bit more challenging. We’re trying to apply the same principles that has made it so successful; execution might be just a tad off there and when you’re a tad off, with the quality of goaltending and the quality of penalty killing in this league, it’s challenging.
“These guys have got my total confidence and I’m confident we’re going to get back to our level that we expect from these guys on the power play.”
The stats support Vigneault’s positive attitude as Vancouver remains the top-ranked team in the NHL on the power play at 23.9 per cent.
Vancouver played its fifth game in eight nights, while San Jose played its first in five nights. A more lopsided schedule you’d be hard pressed to find.
Still, it was the Canucks surging back in the third period to steal a point from the rested Sharks. The Canucks are not using their recent schedule, which includes an upcoming four games in six nights, on the road, beginning in Boston on Saturday, as an excuse for anything.
“We’re used to the travel, we know how to handle ourselves, we deal with that every year so it’s not something we need to use as a crutch or anything like that,” said Luongo. “As athletes we take care of ourselves and we have to manage our bodies to be able to play on a nightly basis.”
If anyone is to blame for Vancouver’s schedule, it’s geography. British Columbia continues to be far away from a lot of other provinces and US states with NHL teams.
It is, as Vigneault said, what it is.
“We’ve know about it, I’ve tried to spread the ice time, monitor the ice time, monitor practice, and if you look at our third period tonight, we won the third period when we were down by a goal. We found a way to get a point.”
year, but 20 will be a stretch" -@patersonjeff, tweeting from the future. Hansen scored 10 seconds later.
own penalties and the backup had to go in net for 2 minutes?" -@ballbreakers24
straight games (1-7-8); he leads the Canucks in points vs. San Jose this year with four assists.
politely, a pair petted inappropriately and the other kissed for the first time in years. Kiss Cam is genius.