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Heavy heartbreak

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Everything that plagued the Vancouver Canucks during their recent disappointing five-game homestand was corrected on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.

The Canucks didn’t allow an early goal, or a first period goal at all, instead scoring to gain a little momentum.

They didn’t give in to numerous Shark attacks in the middle frame, as defensive breakdowns were minimal.

In the final 20 minutes, Vancouver once again did everything right with zero goals against thanks to a solid defensive performance and some extraordinary goaltending.

No, wait, that should read 19 minutes and 20 seconds.

In the final 19 minutes and 20 seconds, Vancouver once again did everything right with zero goals against thanks to a solid defensive performance and some extraordinary goaltending.

That last 40 seconds of the third period was a back breaker for the Canucks as the Sharks scored to force overtime before winning it in the extra session.

There have been some heartbreaking losses for Vancouver this season, but nothing like this.

Let’s rewind to the opening period, an impressive span of road hockey that saw the Canucks dominate the Sharks in their own backyard.

The final shots were 8-2 for San Jose through 20 minutes, yet the score was 1-0 Vancouver thanks to a Taylor Pyatt goal with 7:22 remaining, his second in as many games.

Skating on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Pyatt knew he would be rewarded for finding the seams in front of the goal, so he did just that.

Henrik wheeled around from behind the San Jose goal and found Pyatt in the slot, allowing him to rip home his sixth goal of the season.

“I just tried to get to the front of the net and find some open ice,” said Pyatt.

“Daniel and Henrik are so good at finding the open player and they got me a loose puck in front of the net.

“I think it was a pretty solid period for us,” added Pyatt. “We sort of talked about it before the game, wanting to come out and have a good focus on the first ten minutes because they always come out so hard on their building.

“We were able to do that and I thought it was all-round a pretty good period for us.”

It was indeed. David was on top of Goliath after the first.

A duplicate period ensued, minus a goal for the Canucks. The visitors were outplayed and outshot and still alive.

Then came the third and you could just sense a San Jose comeback. The Sharks peppered Luongo with a barrage of shots in the late stages with the Canucks sitting on their one goal lead instead of mounting an attack.

That’s roughly as smart as sitting on an active volcano, and Vancouver paid for it.

Patrick Marleau to Joe Thornton to Devin Setoguchi to the back of the net and the game was tied with 40 seconds remaining.

In overtime, with Daniel Sedin in the box for hooking, it was Joe Pavelski to Thornton to Marleau to the back of the net. 2-1. Game over.

David connected once, but was devoured by Goliath in the end.

The fact that the Canucks, now in the midst of a six-game losing streak for the first time in 10 years, were able to stay with the Sharks for 99 per cent of this game is an accomplishment in itself.

There’s no grasping at straws to find other positives for Vancouver in this game, after all, this crumbling bunch was 40 seconds from handing the best team in hockey only its second home loss of the season.

Pyatt was a bull and has been the lone bright spot for the Canucks upfront of late, while Luongo had one of his best games of the season let alone since returning from injury six days ago.

Luongo stopped 27 shots overall, including two Marleau breakaways in overtime before he as outdone by the Sharks forward on the game-winner.

Despite the good, when all is said and done the Canucks didn’t play a full sixty minutes and a seventh straight loss to San Jose and fifth consecutive L at the Shark Tank was the understandable outcome.

San Jose proved why its one of the best teams in the NHL on this night, leaving Vancouver to ponder what they proved.

How can something so close end up being so far away?

The Canucks have the entire all-star break to mull that over.

0 – Wins for the Canucks in their last seven games versus the Sharks

0 – Shots for Vancouver in overtime

– Goals for Taylor Pyatt, he scored in the first period

27 – Saves by Roberto Luongo, this was easily his best game since returning from injury

850 – Combined career points for Daniel and Henrik Sedin, they are now the highest scoring twins in NHL history

Scoring the game's opening goal was the lone highlight for Vancouver's big O.

The good of Taylor Pyatt's stellar play was erased by the fact that the Canucks mustered only 14 shots on goal.

Mats Sundin had a chance to ice this game with a breakaway late in the third, he was denied.

Vancouver was outshot by San Jose 29-14.

Vancouver put forth its best defensive effort of the entire season - for 19 minutes and 20 seconds.

After San Jose's first goal it was all downhill in overtime.

Sami Salo played 20:07 in his return, while Roberto Luongo showed no rust at all with 27 saves.

What special teams?

During this one-sided reffing affair, the Canucks had only one power play chance, failing to convert.

Daniel Sedin was in the box for the game winning goal with Vancouver unable to kill off the 4-on-3 power play.

The Sharks were 1-for-4 overall.
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