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Game 1: Canucks fall short

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
The start of the John Tortorella era looked an awful lot like the end of the previous one.

The Canucks, playing their first regular season game under their new head coach, displayed a much more physical and aggressive style that hadn't been a trademark of theirs in seasons past but it didn't translate into an opening night victory as the Sharks spoiled Tortorella's debut handing Vancouver a 4-1 loss on Thursday at the SAP Center.

Jason Garrison scored the lone goal for the Canucks, who have lost their last eight in a row to the Sharks counting regular season and playoffs.

Jason Braun's point shot through traffic that found its way into the Canucks' net with just 1:53 left in the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Sharks won their fourth season opener in a row.

Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels scored 1:18 apart late in the third period to effectively put the game out of reach. Brent Burns also scored for San Jose.

Roberto Luongo, making his eighth straight appearance in a season opener for the Canucks, looked sharp early on and kept the Canucks in the game for most of the contest before the Sharks' late flurry. He finished the night with 31 saves on 35 shots.

Antti Niemi turned aside 21 of 22 shots in the victory.

The Canucks host the Edmonton Oilers in their home opener on Saturday.

BLOCK PARTY: Shot blocking has been a big point of emphasis for Torts and the Canucks certainly heeded that message on opening night. Although the Sharks still managed to get 35 pucks through to the net, Vancouver finished the night with 22 blocked shots. Christopher Tanev led the way with five while Alex Burrows and Alexander Edler had three each.

PENALTY PARADE: The Canucks were one of the most penalized teams in the league last season and, at least after opening night, that hasn't seemed to change much. The Canucks were called for eight minor penalties on Thursday versus just six for the Sharks. On the bright side for the Canucks, they managed to kill off all eight of the Sharks' power plays including a full two-minute 5-on-3 in the second period.

OPENING NIGHT JITTERS: Opening nights haven't been fruitful for new head coaches around the league. Of the five teams that debuted a new head coach this season, only Colorado's Patrick Roy managed to win in his first outing. The other four – Dallas Eakins (EDM), Lindy Ruff (DAL), Alain Vigneault (NYR) and Tortorella – all suffered losses in their first outing with their new team.

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