VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – The Canucks drew the stubby straw Friday night in their season opener facing an ornery San Jose side that was coming off an OT loss in Edmonton less than 24 hours ago.
Despite a raucous crowd and a solid finish to the night, Vancouver fell 3-1 to the Sharks putting an end to the longest active winning streak in season openers in the NHL at four games.
The Sharks enjoyed four first-period power plays and ran up three goals on Roberto Luongo before Vancouver steadied the ship.
“We had some breakdowns early, especially in the first period,” said Markus Naslund. “We can’t give up against a good team like this and it’s tough to get back when you’re down three to nothing. It’s a disappointing start, but good thing there’s a game tomorrow.”
Brendan Morrison tallied for the Canucks midway through the third and the Canucks buzzed Evgeni Nabokov’s net late, but couldn’t get any closer.
“We’re trying to get bodies in front, get some traffic in the crease and get after some rebound goals,” said Morrison. “We had a couple chances right on the doorstep late in the game…but we just didn’t get it.” Jeremy Roenick scored twice - the 496th and 497th goals of his career – and Joe Thornton potted his second of the season while Nabokov had 22 saves in the win.
“They’re a big team like I mentioned this morning and yesterday, they’re a very young, talented, big, strong team,” said Alain Vigneault. “They are one of the best in the NHL, so to be able to beat a team like that, you have to be on top of your game.”
Thornton opened the scoring 5:30 in by turning a 2-on-1 into a breakaway shot that trickled through Luongo. Roenick then moved closer to the American goal-scoring record.
The 37-year-old Boston native banged in a rebound at 11:48 of the first period. Vancouver had just finished killing off a 4-minute penalty when Roenick added his 497th career goal on a deflection from the slot 3 1/2 minutes later.
Roenick, playing his 19th NHL season and first in San Jose, is now three goals away from becoming just the third American-born player to score 500 goals, and five goals shy of matching Joe Mullen (502) for second place behind leader Mike Modano (507).
Luongo made 28 saves for the Canucks, who iced a pair of new faces on the top two lines in fast-skating rookie Mason Raymond and speedy-but-small newcomer Ryan Shannon.
Jeremy Roenick - two goals, two hits, and a pair of blocked shots.
Brendan Morrison - scored the Canucks lone goal.
Joe Thornton - scored his 2nd of the year and was 75% in the circle.
Raymond collected his first NHL point on Morrison’s third-period tally and finished plus one, with nine shots in just under ten minutes of ice time. Raymond started the game on a line with the Sedins, but played little as the game wound down.
“It’s always nice to get your first career point, but in saying that, it’s just a point after a loss and you never got the win,” said Raymond.
Shannon finished a minus-two, and registered just one shot, but had the most chances as he hit a post and put two other pucks into Nabokov’s pads, including a missed opportunity at a wide-open net on an early power play.
“If the first one goes in, it seems like you get momentum, and you can settle down,” said Shannon. “After that first one didn’t go in, it was tough to stay composed, but I felt better as the game went on. Hopefully I can carry that into tomorrow.”
The Canucks face the Flames in Calgary Saturday night. John Shorthouse and Tom Larscheid will call the game on Team 1040 radio while CBC will broadcast the game on Hockey Night In Canada.
Notes: Roenick is also third among U.S.-born players with 1,172 points, trailing only Modano (1,227) and Phil Housley (1,232). ... Canucks forwards Jeff Cowan and Brad Isbister were healthy scratches. ... Vancouver D Sami Salo is two weeks away from playing after breaking his wrist during an intrasquad game in training camp. ... Vancouver plays in Calgary on Saturday night. ... The Sharks play at Colorado on Sunday and at Chicago on Wednesday before their home opener against Boston next Saturday.
1 - 0 SJS
2 - 0 SJS
3 - 0 SJS
3 - 1 SJS
Hi stick - double minor