Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks swarms around Vancouver Canucks' goalie Cory Schneider during Monday's National Hockey League game in San Jose, Calif. After a scoreless first period, the Sharks jumped on the Canucks, who finished their two-game road trip in California.
Photograph by: Jeff Chiu, The Associated Press
SAN JOSE, Calif – I
t isn’t just Ryan Kesler the Canucks need, but Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and Alex Edler and Kevin Bieksa — and all the players at the top of the lineup.
The Canucks didn’t push forward until the game was all but over Monday, as Vancouver fell behind by three goals before losing 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks.
It was the 12th time in 16 National Hockey League games the Canucks, missing Kesler and several other injured players, have scored two or fewer goals.
There is little or no margin for error playing that way, and the Canucks made plenty of errors in the middle of the second period as they fell behind the Sharks one game and two nights after they were thumped 4-0 by the Edmonton Oilers.
“You look at all the good teams and they’re scoring at least three goals a game,” Canuck winger Chris Higgins said after generating a goal and assist in the final 23 minutes. “It’s tough to win games when you’re scoring two or less than two. We have to find a way to score some dirtier goals. We definitely need to do a better job responding to the goals scored against us.”
You wouldn’t think the Canucks could have a worse couple of minutes than they did Saturday in Edmonton. But you’d be wrong.
After surrendering three goals in 2:27 at the start of their loss to the Oilers, the Canucks surrendered three in 2:13 to the Sharks halfway through the second period.
“That was the game right there,” Canuck Alex Burrows said. “But I like how we responded; we responded much better than we did against Edmonton. We showed some character and tried to come back.
“We’ve got to be realistic. You look at our lineup; we’ve had a lot of young players taking their first steps in the NHL. If you start running and gunning with this kind of roster ... I’d rather try to play well defensively and not have those two or three minutes like we did tonight.”
The Canucks simply can’t score their way out of trouble the way they did when they were winning Presidents’ Trophies the last two seasons.
It wasn’t Nicklas Jensen they needed Monday, which is good because the best we can say about the 20-year-old’s NHL debut is it was rather quiet. The Canucks needed the Sedin twins, the former NHL scoring champions who have generated two goals in two weeks.
They need top defenceman Edler to stop playing like he did last April in the playoffs, nervy with the puck and prone always to a big mistake rather than a small one. They need more from their best players.
And they need Kesler, who has missed five weeks with a broken foot but has been cleared to begin skating and could be in the lineup sometime next week.
But the way the Canucks have collapsed offensively, it will take more than Kesler to rescue this team. It needs to help itself.
Daniel Sedin agrees.
“We’re supposed to score and win games,” he said. “And when we lose by one goal and we haven’t done anything offensively, that’s on us. We have to find a way to score.”
Despite getting outshot 14-6 in the first period and outchanced by a more lopsided margin, the Canucks managed to keep the game scoreless until 7:41 of the second period when Edler’s snap-clearance up the middle hit a teammate and fell to San Jose fourth-liner Andrew Desjardins, who scored for the first time in 35 games.
Only 41 seconds later, San Jose captain Joe Thornton scored for the first time in 13 games, wristing a shot from 35 feet over goalie Cory Schneider’s catching glove after the puck had bounced back to the Shark off defenceman Chris Tanev.
The best chance of a Canuck comeback ended during a 15-second spell just over a minute later. Speedy winger Jannik Hansen was stopped by San Jose goalie Antti Niemi on a short-handed breakaway, and on the counter-attack Patrick Marleau’s centring pass bounced past Schneider when Logan Couture crashed while charging to the net.
After the two minutes that decided the game, the Canucks recovered their equilibrium and managed to score for the first time in two games. Higgins made it 3-1 at 17:26 when his quick-release shot slid under Niemi’s right pad.
The Canucks continued to push, which they didn’t do at all in the first period, and cut the deficit to 3-2 at 10:20 of the third period when Burrows scooped in a loose puck after going to the net and finding the leftovers from Higgins’ shot.
But the Sharks, who have won five straight games to power up the standings in the Western Conference, held off Vancouver the rest of the way.
They suddenly trail the Canucks by only two points, with a game in hand. And there’s nothing wrong lately with San Jose’s attack.
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