Following an ugly 8-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Sunday night, the Vancouver Canucks were looking to put together a full 60-minute effort against the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night at Rogers Arena and they delivered.
Backed by 23 saves from Cory Schneider, who was in goal for all eight scores against the Oilers and was also looking to erase the memory of that game, the Canucks beat the Sharks 3-1 to improve their pre-season record to 2-4-0.
Mikael Samuelsson and Mason Raymond scored first period goals and Jeff Tambellini added another in the second, while Schneider put together his finest game of the pre-season for his first win in exhibition play.
Dany Heatley had the lone Sharks goal, a second period score that broke Schneider’s shutout bid, but Vancouver was able to keep San Jose at bay during a frantic third period to preserve the win.
Nine Canucks recorded their first pre-season points and no one was happier to score than Samuelsson as the veteran was coming off a minus-5 outing versus Edmonton. Henrik and Daniel came together to set him up for Vancouver’s opening goal on the power play 5:25 into the first period; if anyone is in mid-season form, it’s the twins who have both recorded at least a point in every exhibition game they’ve played this year.
Whatever it takes. That’s what any and all of Vancouver’s bubble players are willing to do to earn a roster spot and for forward Jeff Tambellini, that entailed getting gritty on this night.
Two games ago the 26-year-old was treated to a spot alongside the Sedins on Vancouver’s top trio, but against the Sharks he skated with Raffi Torres and Manny Malhotra on the third line. Not only did he flex some muscle with three hits, he also recorded his first goal of the pre-season. Streaking down the right wing, Tambellini snapped a shot from the faceoff dot that jumped over Antti Niemi’s left shoulder and in.
“I think it was Malhotra and Hansen both made two good chips and I just kind of came down the side and had a little bit of space up top and it’s a shot I like to shoot,” said Tambellini, one of a handful of players vying for a spot in Vancouver’s bottom six.
Nothing gets you noticed and helps your cause like the game coming to a halt and all eyes falling on you after scoring a big goal.
“Of course it helps, that’s what I’m brought here to do,” said Tambellini of the goal. “That’s going to be a part of it, not everything, but it’s going to be a big part of it, you have to be able to put the puck into the back of the net and play in both zones.”
There are a lot of reasons the Canucks chose to keep Cory Schneider with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose for the past three seasons and one of them was that it would help him grow a thick skin.
An increased workload meant more room to excel, but also more room for error, and Schneider had a few outings with the Moose he definitely wanted back. Not always being as sharp as he would have liked helped the netminder realize that a short memory is as important as anything.
He proved that against the Sharks with a 23-save performance, perhaps his finest since being selected 26th overall by the Canucks in the 2004 NHL draft.
“I think I just tried to forget what happened Sunday night, it was just a bad effort by everyone, myself included, and part of being a goalie is having a short memory and not thinking about it too much so I didn’t, I was more worried about tonight’s game than I was about that game,” said Schneider.
“I’m just happy I was able to come out and play well and hopefully get some trust back in my teammates and myself.”
After allowing eight goals on 33 shots to the Oilers, Schneider rebounded with a solid first 20 minutes against the Sharks stopping all nine shots faced, including a pair from Devin Setoguchi and Dan Boyle.
“It’s usually important, you have to get out to a good start, if the first shot goes in then you start thinking again and it’s kind of here we go again.
“To make a few big saves in the first and then our team built a lead, I think that helped a lot and they did a great job in the second shutting them down, then they made a push in the third and we were able to hold the fort.”
Andrew Alberts and Alex Bolduc both appeared in their team-high fourth pre-season games; Daniel Sedin, Alex Edler and Dan Hamhuis all sported an 'A' against San Jose; Vancouver has four goalies, 11 defencemen and 22 forwards left on their roster; Roberto Luongo continues to be day-to-day with a groin injury, he's hoping to play Friday in Anaheim.