While the Canucks were outplayed for large portions of this game, you have to keep one thing in mind: 4 days ago, the Canucks were in San Jose defeating the Sharks in a tough overtime game. In between, they had two more games. The Sharks had none. The Sharks were fresher than a perfectly cleaned kitchen where someone is brewing mint tea. The Canucks, on the other hand, just sprayed Febreze everywhere and hoped for the best. I watched this game.
Canucks 2 – 3 Sharks (SO)
Roberto Luongo was easily the best player for the Canucks, making 31 saves in regulation to steal a point, then making 2 more in both overtime and the shootout to give the Canucks a chance to win. You have permission to slap any of your friends who claim that this loss was somehow Luongo’s fault. Then find some smarter friends.
After getting absolutely dominated in the faceoff circle in their last game against the Sharks, the Canucks turned the tables, winning 38-of-62 draws. Not a single Canuck fell below 50%, with the big winner being Ryan Kesler, who went 14-for-22. The only issue was that half of his losses came in the defensive zone, where he went just 1-for-5. Kesler’s dad was furious.
Canucks fans are used to seeing gorgeous passing plays prior to goals. In this game, however, Cody Hodgson and Kevin Bieksa were awarded assists on terrible passes, with no wizardry to be seen. Clearly, they are muggles.
On the first goal, for instance, Hodgson’s one-touch return pass to Jannik Hansen on a 3-on-1 was a clever move. Unfortunately, the pass was so far behind Hansen that he had to turn backwards to accept it, leaving him no room to shoot the puck. Fortunately, Hansen’s attempted return pass to Hodgson deflected off the backchecking Jamie McGinn past Antti Niemi. Meanwhile, Daniel Sedin, the third man on the 3-on-1, went and sulked in the corner. Helloooo. Canucks leading goalscorer and defending Art Ross winner here.
The only reason the Canucks had a 3-on-1 is because Brent Burns pinched down the boards and none of the forwards covered for him at the point. It’s tough to know whether to blame Burns or the forwards, however. Yes, one of the forwards should have covered for him, but Burns was the one who took a bad angle shot with all three forwards in front of the net. Let’s face it, Burns, like his cousin Major Frank Burns, is terrible.
As much as Burns is terrible, he was nice enough to make sure that no one could accuse Henrik Sedin of embellishment by knocking his helmet clean off his head when he high-sticked him in the third period. Henrik’s helmet, on the other hand, was chirped for the rest of the game for taking a dive.
The Sharks got lucky on their first goal as well, as Kevin Bieksa took a Logan Couture shot to the side of the knee, causing him to immediately drop to the ice in pain. His check, Benn Ferriero, was consequently left all alone in front and scored on the rebound after Luongo made a nice save on his initial shot. For once the puck went in on Luongo while someone else was ineffectually sprawled on his belly.
Luongo can’t be happy, however, with the rebound he gave up on the Sharks’ second goal. The initial shot was going well wide, but Luongo kicked it out directly into the slot, where Patrick Marleau outbattled Keith Ballard to shoot the puck into the open net. Both players clearly blamed themselves, as they each looked skyward simultaneously.
The Canucks’ powerplay wasn’t very good in this game, failing to score on a minute-long 5-on-3 and producing very few chances, but the game-tying goal did come on their final opportunity of the game. Bieksa’s pass up to Hodgson was in his feet, but Silent G did well to kick the puck up to his stick and feed Hamhuis to gain the zone. Once he did, he found a soft spot in the Sharks’ penalty kill and one-timed the pass from Hamhuis far-post past Niemi. If there were any justice, they’d give Bieksa’s assist to Chris Higgins, who provided a timely screen.
That said, Bieksa extended his point-scoring streak to 7 games with the assist, a career-high, and gave him 23 points on the season, one more than he scored in each of his last two seasons. He’s now on-pace for a career-high 47 points. Christian Ehrhoff has 17 points in 37 games and is minus-11. I bring that up for no reason whatsoever.
That notorious rogue Luongo received his second penalty of the season for ostensibly handling the puck outside of the trapezoid. Except he didn’t. Referee Tim Peel made the call from the opposite side of the ice where he clearly could not tell where the puck was. Joe Thornton shot his arm up in the air faster than a kid who sits in the front row in class, which was apparently enough to convince Peel.
Thornton was booed every time he touched the puck. This pleased me. I was also pleased that he had a pretty terrible game, with 3 awful giveaways that led to great scoring chances and a terrible shot on a near-empty net that was misinterpreted as an incredible save. That’s the one problem with hockey in HD: it’s far too clear that the puck was going wide.
If the third period had been one second longer, the Sharks would have won when Torrey Mitchell roofed the puck on a partial breakaway. Of course, if the third period had been one second longer, Sami Salo wouldn’t have overplayed the puck carrier to allow Mitchell to get a partial breakaway. According to Tumblr, Salo is flawless and wouldn’t make that kind of mistake.
The Canucks were foiled by two posts in overtime and the shootout. Actually, it was the same post twice as Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis rang an overtime scoring chance off the post with an open net and Kesler dinged the same post with his shootout attempt. Michal Handzus scored the only goal of the shootout after two good stops by Luongo. I blame the evil, evil post. I hear it was muttering nasty things about orphans all game, which is why Hamhuis shot the puck at it so hard. He’s a nice guy, but he has his limits.
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]