The Vancouver Canucks oncedidn’t have their A-game for a full 60 minutes and it cost them again as they fell to the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a shootout at Rogers Arena Thursday night.
Henrik Sedin and Logan Couture traded goals in regulation before Joe Pavelski was the only skater to score in the shootout to lift the Sharks to their third straight win and first victory against the Canucks in three attempts this season.
For the Canucks, goaltender Roberto Luongo was masterful in goal stopping 44 shots, including game-savers on Joe Thornton in the third period and overtime to help Vancouver earn at least a point in the loss.
After outscoring the Sharks 1-0 and outshooting them 17-10 in the first period, the Canucks were dominated in shots to the tune of 25-9 in the second, which tilted the ice in San Jose’s favour.
Were it not for the stellar play of Luongo, this game could have gotten out of hand for the Canucks.
“Lu was unbelievable tonight,” said Burrows, “he made some key saves especially in the second I think he faced close to 30 shots and that’s unacceptable on our part, but he was there to keep it close and too bad we couldn’t get the win for him.”
Luongo, who hasn’t lost in regulation since December 5th, couldn’t explain what derailed the Canucks in the middle frame.
“I thought we had a pretty good first period and I don’t know what happened in the second,” said Luongo. “They were throwing pucks from everywhere, which is good for me, I was able to get into a good comfort zone and I was tracking the puck well.”
The Canucks failed to find the back of the net more than once for the third time in five games and fourth time in seven contests, despite numerous scoring chances highlighted by a power play in overtime.
If Vancouver scores there, it’s game over and no one is talking about the team’s lack of scoring punch of late. Instead, the Canucks became shark bait with the third highest scoring team in the NHL still struggling for offence.
“There’s going to be stretches of five or six games during the season where you’re not going to score, it happens and it’s more the way we play, I don’t think we’re doing the little things that we need to score goals, but those things are pretty easy to fix,” assessed Henrik Sedin.
The Canucks continue their four-game homestand Saturday against the Calgary Flames.
The next Chris Levesque has been found.
Hockey trivia buffs take note, his name is Jordan White.
White, the starting goalie for the UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team, backed up San Jose Sharks starter Antti Niemi for Thursday’s contest; White was signed on an emergency basis after Sharks netminder Antero Niittymaki was injured during the morning skate.
The 22-year-old, 6-foot-2, 175-pound native of Surrey, BC, who has posted a 7-11 record in 18 games with the T-Birds this season with a 3.51 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage, was informed he’s be in an NHL uniform the first time in his career early this afternoon and he made it official signing on the dotted line at 1:30 p.m., during practice at UBC.
White put his Canucks allegiance aside for the evening and cheered on the visiting Sharks on what was one of the most unforgettable nights of his life – even if he only skated during warm-up.
”I had a nice little stretch, I got to see some guys make some nice crisp passes,” laughed White, surrounded by media post-game. “I’m pretty sure if I would have had a few more opportunities against these guys I would have made a few more saves.”
Unlike White, Levesque had the benefit of suiting up for the Canucks back on December 9, 2003, when Vancouver needed a netminder to fill the void left after Dan Cloutier tweaked his groin during the morning skate.
The UBC goalie almost got a real taste of NHL action when starter Johan Hedberg collided with Konstantin Koltsov in the first period, but Hedberg was able to finish the game, backing Vancouver to a 4-3 win.
Levesque is now a chef in Vancouver, but his connection to the Canucks lives on.
“Right now when I look back on it, its hard to pick just one,” said Levesque of all the highlights he experienced. “It was such a perfect storm when I played. Naslund scored four goals, and when Hedberg went down I knew all eyes were on me.
“I really enjoyed skating with the team during overtime and celebrating the victory with them after we won. I really enjoyed the spotlight after as well… the aftermath, meeting guys at charity events, getting memorabilia.”
Alex Edler played in his 300th NHL game against the Sharks; the Canucks are undefeated in regulation in their last 10 home games going 7-0-3; Vancouver has outscored San Jose 11-5 head-to-head this season.