After beating the Oilers in back-to-back games over the weekend, the Canucks couldn’t keep the momentum going for a full sixty minutes as the Sharks fought back from an early one-goal deficit to claim another victory in General Motors Place. Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo all scored in a 3:20 span early in the third period to break open a tie game and cruise to a 4-2 victory. Steve Bernier had the other goal for the Sharks. Taylor Pyatt and Henrik Sedin scored power-play goals for the Canucks.
“We did a good job on them in the first half of the game,” said Roberto Luongo, who finished with 30 saves. “After that, we started giving time and space, and that’s when they got going, got some scoring chances, and some goals.”
For the first two periods the Canucks looked like the team that posted the best post-Christmas record in the NHL last season pelting Evgeni Nabokov with 16 quality pucks. But with a one-goal lead seemingly firm hand, Willie Mitchell and Mattias Ohlund were whistled for hooking and holding four seconds apart late in the middle frame. Bernier tied the game on a power-play breakaway beating Luongo five-hole and San Jose pulled away.
“We got into penalty trouble and we lost momentum there,” Luongo said. “We didn’t get a lot of scoring chances after that.”
Pavelski added a second power-play goal 2:33 into the third. Thornton scored his third of the year at 3:45, and Cheechoo scored from a sharp angle at 5:33.
“Louie kept us in during the second period,” said Naslund, “but in the third we came out flat-footed and didn’t dictate the game. And if we’re a step behind, we’re not going to win – we’re going to take penalties and we’re not going to get scoring chances. We’re going to be playing in our own end.”
The Canucks had a handful of chances to build on an early lead after Brad Isbister’s wrist shot hit the post and bounced in off Taylor Pyatt’s leg three minutes into the second, but couldn’t beat Nabokov, who finished with 24 saves. A rebound hopped through the crease and onto Daniel Sedin’s tape, but a diving Nabokov kept the Twin from bunting his third of the year over the goal line. The offense that helped Vancouver run nine goals up on the Oilers in the past two games simply wasn’t there Monday night. The Canucks enjoyed the first three power plays of the game, but couldn't take advantage, failing to register a shot during a 44-second 5-on-3.
“We got to realize against a team like this we got to grind them down,” said Naslund. “You’ve got to use the points. It’s not going to be pretty goals all the time.”
“I thought we weren’t on the same page on the power play. We made a lot of mistakes, didn’t support the puck, and didn’t get set up.”
San Jose didn’t have the same problem. After averaging just two goals through their first five games, an offense that finished third in the Western Conference last season, broke loose in the third scoring three times before Henrik Sedin converted a power-play set-up from brother Daniel with just under seven minutes remaining. Canucks winger Matt Cooke, who was returning to the line-up after being a healthy scratch for Saturday’s match-up with Edmonton, was whistled for roughing early in the third.
The Sharks needed just six seconds to take the lead for good. Pavelski scooped up a long rebound and patiently out waited Luongo before tucking the puck into an unguarded net. Thornton's goal 72 seconds later was similar, with the big center out waiting a sprawled Luongo alone in tight. Cheechoo, pointless in five games coming in, started on the third line, but was back on the top unit to start the second period and picked up an assist on Thornton's goal.
Scored one goal and got two assists. Finished the night with a +2 rating.
Assisted on the Canucks’ first goal and had 3 shots.
24 saves on the night and an assist on the first Sharks goal.
“We made a few more mistakes,” said Henrik, in describing the difference between Saturday’s win over the Oiler’s and Monday’s loss to the Sharks. “They took over the game after the tying goal in the second. We were staying back way too much. And they owned us in the third too after the second goal there in the power play.”
“We took a couple steps back tonight. We didn’t work hard enough and that’s something that can never happen with this team.”
Vancouver forward Rick Rypien dropped the gloves with San Jose’s Douglas Murray midway through the second with the Canucks leading 1-0. The 6’3”, 240-pound defender landed several clean blows before the much smaller Rypien rallied back. The Sharks scored minutes later on the two man advantage.
“I didn’t see that as being a motivator for them and a non-motivator for us,” said Alain Vigneault. “They might’ve seen it another way.”
“I think anytime you have a player that stands up to another player, like Rypien does, [that’s a positive].”
“Coming off with two good games against Edmonton, we thought we’d play well and we’re taking positive steps. Maybe it is a half step back, but we definitely thought we deserved better.” – Bieksa.
“I thought we were on the right track - we didn’t have a bad third period, they had a couple great shifts from a great player and they made us pay.” – Vigneault.
“I thought in the third period we saw an elite player - one of the three top players in the NHL - bring his game to another level. Thorton made some great plays, that’s why he’s an elite player and that’s why he’s an all-star in our league. We didn’t have anything to respond with. Some players have the capability to do that, and he did that.” Vigeault on Thornton’s three-point night.Notes: Vancouver D Alex Edler played after being called up from Manitoba in the AHL earlier Monday to replace Lukas Krajicek, who is day to day with a sore foot after blocking a shot Saturday. ... Canucks D Sami Salo, out since breaking a bone in his wrist in training camp, had his cast removed and could return within the week. ... San Jose C Jeremy Roenick returned after missing the last game with an injury. ... The Sharks, who have played five of their first six games on the road, play at home Thursday and Saturday before heading back out on the road for four straight.