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Game 77: Canucks at Sharks (3.31.16)

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
UPDATES:

The Canucks close out their home-and-home series, and their season series, against the San Jose Sharks tonight down at the Shark Tank.

Setting records can be good thing but not when it's one for a futility streak. This season's version of the Canucks is hoping to avoid their share of history. Vancouver brings a nine-game losing streak into tonight's contest (eight regulation losses plus one shootout loss). The franchise record for most consecutive losses is 10 games set back in 1997 and while this new NHL era may recognize this stretch as officially a "winless" streak as opposed to a losing one, the Canucks would be just as happy to avoid association of any kind to that unfortunate mark set nearly 10 years ago.

If the Canucks, who fell 4-1 to the Sharks on Tuesday to begin this home-and-home series, are to bring their long skid to an end, they will have to do so without the services of rookie Jake Virtanen. Virtanen was assessed a five-minute interference penalty and game misconduct two nights ago for his hit on San Jose's Roman Polak and has subsequently been handed a two-game suspension by the NHL. He is eligible to return on Monday when the Canucks host the Kings at Rogers Arena.

Puck drop at 7:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.

Regular Season Record

27-36-13 43-28-6

2015.16 Season Series

1-3-0 3-1-0

All-Time Series

52-43-15 49-47-14

Last 10 games

1-8-1 6-4-0

Last 10 head-to-head

4-5-1 6-4-0
 

Keys to the Game

Fuel off the bad blood. For two teams headed in opposite directions, Tuesday's tilt certainly featured its fair share of hostility reminiscent of Canucks-Sharks battles from days gone by. The residual ill will should get the Canucks fired up for this rematch.

The top line gets back to business. Since Jannik Hansen's return, the top line has yet to combine for a goal together in four games. This trio needs to get back to leading the way offensively.

Come out ready. The Sharks definitely got better on Tuesday as the game went along but they won't want a repeat of how they started. Given the Canucks' recent success at the Shark Tank, the Sharks definitely want to jump out to an early lead in this one instead of playing on their heels to start off.


Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota

By the Numbers

1st

Career hat trick for Logan Couture on Tuesday. (1st Sharks hat trick vs VAN since Apr. 3/99 - Vincent Damphousse).

5

Straight wins for the Canucks at the Shark Tank dating back to November 7, 2013.

5

Points each for Sharks D Brent Burns and F Logan Couture, tied for the season series lead.

5

Game road winless streak for the Canucks entering play tonight (0-4-1). Their season-high is 6 games.

18th

Time the Sharks have qualified for the playoffs. They return this season after missing out last year.

30

Straight Sharks wins that has featured at least one point from Joe Thornton. (Last win without a point from Thornton – November 22 vs CBJ).


Scouting Report

  • The Sharks did not get off to the start they would have liked to two nights ago being out-shot and out-chanced by the Canucks in the opening period but they certainly ended the right way scoring three unanswered goals (a natural hat-trick for Logan Couture) to close out the 4-1 win.
  • With their two third period goals on Tuesday, the Sharks have now out-scored Vancouver 9-2 in the final frame through four games in the season series. In fact, nine of their 13 overall goals in the season series have come in the final frame. Vancouver has out-scored San Jose 6-4 in first and second periods, combined.
  • In all-but-one game in the season series, the Sharks have also had the advantage on the shot clock. The only game where San Jose did not outshoot Vancouver was in the second meeting of the season between the clubs where the shots finished tied at 30 apiece. All-but-four skaters for the Sharks recorded a shot on goal on Tuesday, while just one forward – Michael Haley – failed to do so.
  • One area the Sharks have really had an edge in the season series is on special teams. They've scored power play goals in three of the four games in the season series (the three games they've won), and also kept the Canucks from getting any power play markers of their own in three of the four games (the same three games they've won). It's worth noting, however, in Vancouver's lone win in the season series which came back on March 5 at the Shark Tank, the Canucks went 3-for-7 on the power play while the Sharks were shutout on man-advantage chances going 0-for-3.
  • Despite James Reimer picking up the win two nights ago, expect to see Martin Jones in net for San Jose in the season series finale. Jones has been lights out against the Canucks in the season series as well posting a perfect 2-0-0 record while turning aside 51 of 54 shots for a save percentage of .944.
  • Although the Sharks likely won't get to enjoy home-ice advantage once the playoffs begin, they'd still like to head into the post-season with as much confidence as possible playing in front of their home fans. Aside from a couple of nice stretches – a nine-game regulation unbeaten streak (January 9 to February 13) and a four-game win streak (March 12-20) – home ice has not been kind to the Sharks this season. Among teams potentially bound for the playoffs, only the Bruins (16) have fewer home wins than the Sharks (17).
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