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SHARKS at CANUCKS
(San Jose leads best-of-7 series, 1-0)
TV: CNBC; TSN, RDS; CSN-CA
Big story: It was déjà vu for the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night, when a 3-1 Game 1 loss to the San Jose Sharks unfolded in an eerily similar fashion to last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs opener against the Los Angeles Kings.
Vancouver failing to take advantage of Roberto Luongo's great early saves, generating little offensively, and struggling on special teams were all themes last year too -- and that series ended in five games. If the Canucks don't come up answers in Game 2 at home, where they have lost five straight playoff games, it may be over even faster; San Jose lost two games in regulation at home during the regular season.
Sharks: The only question to emerge from San Jose's Game 1 win was whether second-line wing Martin Havlat would be healthy enough to play Game 2. Havlat left with nine minutes left in the first period and replays showed him taking a stick in the groin from Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa on his final shift.
Coach Todd McLellan didn't have -- or at least wouldn't share -- that answer after an optional practice, but the fact Havlat, who also missed the final game of the regular season, wasn't on the ice Thursday doesn't bode well.
McLellan mixed up his lines after Havlat left, finally settling on former Canucks forward Raffi Torres late in the game. Spare forward Tim Kennedy, who had two goals in 13 games this season, may take Havlat's spot in the lineup.
Other than that, the Sharks won't want to change much from a game that saw them force turnovers with an aggressive forecheck, keep the Canucks away from goalie Antti Niemi's crease, and dominate faceoffs and special teams.
"We got one game, now we want two," said Logan Couture, who scored San Jose's first goal and set up Patrick Marleau's insurance tally with 5:23 left. "It's a good start, but that's it. We know they are going to be better though so we have to be prepared for that."
Canucks: Vancouver shook up its forward lines in practice after failing to put a puck past Niemi in the opener -- Torres knocked their only goal past his own goalie -- and loaded up their second line. Centers Ryan Kesler, who was fighting the flu in Game 1, and Derek Roy will play together on a line with Chris Higgins. That trio played together late in the season and created a lot of offense, something the Canucks badly need after generating little in the series opener. But it leaves the bottom-six forwards short of a proven center against a Sharks team that rolls out Joe Thornton, Couture and Joe Pavelski as its top-three centers, giving San Jose more of a balanced attack. The Canucks will need more from Kesler, Roy and the top line duo of Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
"I need more from my whole team," coach Alain Vigneault said, refusing to single out his top forwards after Game 1. "There's no doubt there that all our players understand that we have to get better and we're going to get better."
That means doing more to get in front of and disrupt Niemi.
"We were shooting but had no one there," Daniel Sedin said. "Niemi saw pretty much everything. Any goalie in the League is going to stop those pucks."
Who's hot: There aren't any hot streaks on a Canucks team struggling to score again in the playoffs. ... Couture has picked up where he left off in the regular season for the Sharks. He had four goals and three assists in five games coming into the playoffs, and added a goal and an assist in Game 1.
Injury report: Sharks defenseman Jason Demers missed Game 1 and remains questionable for Game 2 but could return during the first round. Center Scott Gomez also missed Game 1 and is unlikely to play Friday with an undisclosed injury that kept him out of San Jose's final two regular-season games. Havlat is questionable. … Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider didn't practice Thursday and won't play again in Game 2 because of an undisclosed injury that also forced him to miss the final two games of the regular season. Defenseman Chris Tanev (ankle) is in a walking boot but could return during the series. Center Manny Malhotra (eye) and left wing David Booth (ankle) are out for the season.