The desired result for the Sharks second matchup against the Vancouver Canucks was to not repeat their November 6 performance in which they fell 3-2. Tuesday’s tilt, however, was rather uninspired.
“There’s a price that our team has to pay to win,” Todd McLellan said. “Right now, we’re not reaching deep enough … We want everything on sale, is basically a good way of putting it.”
It’s a poetic way of putting it, really, as the Sharks followed up a 3-1 loss to the LA Kings on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to the Canucks, their third straight loss against a division rival.
Nothing seemed to go the Sharks’ way. Joe Pavelski rattled off the list of miscues that befell the team: “We didn’t find the back of the net. There were a lot of one-and-outs. There was nobody at the net when we had our looks. There were a couple good ones, but we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Capitalizing on any of their chances was made even more difficult by the fact that netminder Ryan Miller had another stellar showing in San Jose. “Miller saw a lot of our shots,” Joe Thornton said. “It was tough to get good looks tonight.”
So tough that the Sharks special teams suffered as well. Vancouver’s players went on a penalty frenzy in the second period, but San Jose ultimately went 0-for-4 on the man advantage on the evening.
Vancouver has proven to be stingy when they get an early lead, and such was the case in the first frame of Tuesday’s game. With chaos in front of Alex Stalock, the puck bounced off Brenden Dillon’s skate and was poked to the back of San Jose’s net. Bo Horvat was credited with the goal that gave the Canucks the early 1-0 lead.
The Sharks a golden opportunity to tie later in the period with a penalty shot opportunity for Pavelski. But it hit the crossbar with a mocking ‘clank,’ keeping San Jose off the board.
At the opening of the second stanza, Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen laid a dirty hit on Tommy Wingels that sent Sharks’ forward straight to the locker room. Right after he left the penalty box Hansen broke up the ice and shot high over Stalock’s block to add insult to injury and push the visitors’ lead to 2-0. “I didn’t like the hit,” McLellan said bluntly. “I didn’t like that he came out of the box and scored the winning goal and got to play the rest of the night.” Wingels did return to the bench later in the game, however there was no word after the game on how severely he was affected by the hit.
San Jose got another opportunity at a penalty shot after Joe Thornton was mowed over on a breakaway. Thornton’s shot was good, ending the Sharks’ five-year penalty shot drought and cutting Vancouver’s lead in half 2-1.
But Radim Vrbata added to the Canucks lead shortly thereafter with a wrist shot that Stalock couldn’t stop, giving Vancouver the 3-1 advantage. “That’s one I’ve got to have, obviously,” he admitted. “The guy at the other end played a great game, and outplayed me at my end.”
San Jose had a few choice looks towards the end of the second frame, but Miller was in fine form and smothered every shot that came his way.
Not that the Sharks have any time to dwell on the loss. They have a quick turnaround, facing the Ducks down in Anaheim for a New Year’s Eve twi-night match. Is there any advantage to heading right into another game to get the taste of this loss out of their mouths, or is it more nerve-racking having to work not to lose a fourth straight game to a division opponent?
“It doesn’t matter who the opponent is,” Pavelski said, “We’ve got to find wins. We’re going to be playing these teams down the stretch, there’s going to be tough games. It’s about rebounding our game now, and picking it up.”
— Joe Thornton’s penalty shot goal was the first for the Sharks in five years. Previous converted penalty shot was December 30, 2009 against Washington (per @EliasSports)
— For the second time this season San Jose did not allow a power play goal. Although Thornton received a penalty for slashing during the second period, his penalty was sandwiched between two Vancouver penalties, thus nullifying their man-advantage opportunity
— The Sharks are now 12-5-3 vs West, 6-4-2 vs Pacific Division (Courtesy of @SharksStats)