Vancouver Canucks' Hunter Shinkaruk, left, and Yannick Weber, of Switzerland, celebrate Shinkaruk's goal against the San Jose Sharks during the third period of a pre-season NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Monday September 16, 2013.
Photograph by: Darryl Dyck, THE CANADIAN PRESS
The start of the National Hockey League pre-season felt a little like the playoffs for the Vancouver Canucks. They lost, again, to the San Jose Sharks.
With new coach John Tortorella watching from high above in the press box area, a Canuck lineup littered with youngsters dropped a 3-2 decision in their exhibition opener Monday night to the Sharks at Rogers Arena.
But the evening was not a total loss for the Canucks, even though they were outshot 42-16. Tortorella wanted the youngsters to make an impression and at least three of them did.
First-rounders Hunter Shinkaruk and Brendan Gaunce each scored a goal and goaltender Eddie Lack was solid in two periods of work, stopping 25 of 27 shots.
Shinkaruk, a late first-round pick this summer out of Medicine Hat, tied the game 2-2 at 1:15 of the third period with a beautiful goal. The 18-year-old took a pass from defenceman Yannick Weber, broke down the left wing and beat San Jose goalie Alex Stalock high to the short side with a nifty wrist shot that came from below the left faceoff circle.
“I saw a little bit of corner up there,” Shinkaruk said. “It’s not all the time that goes in. I try it every now and then. I’m lucky enough it just worked out ... It was a game I’ll never forget, it was a lot of fun.”
Shinkaruk celebrated the goal by leaping into the glass. Seconds later the scoreboard screen at Rogers Arena showed his parents, Roger and Patricia, beaming from the stands.
“I glanced up there and saw my parents,” Shinkaruk said. “That was pretty cool. They are the biggest reason why I am here, so it was cool they got to experience that.”
Gaunce, Vancouver’s first-round pick in 2012, tied the game 1-1 at 17:46 of the first when he scored off the rush on a rebound. Dale Weise’s shot from the right circle was stopped by Stalock, but the rebound went directly to Gaunce who put a shot under the Shark goalie’s stick.
“I was just going to the net kind of back door and he (Weise) made an awesome play off the pad and I was just in the right spot and it went in for me,” Gaunce said. “Any time you score it feels good and that early in the game it felt good.”
Gaunce also did some little things that likely caught the attention of the coaches, like drawing a penalty on San Jose defenceman Dylan Demelo early in the second period.
“I think that is how I make the team, if I do the little things right,” Gaunce said. “I am not a flashy player. If I do the little things right I’ll have a good game. I think that’s big for me.”
The Sharks had opened scoring at 10:38 of the first when Joe Pavelski scored on a rebound. Lack had made a right pad save on Tommy Wingels but couldn’t get across his crease in time to stop Pavelski’s shot.
The second period was all Sharks. They outshot Vancouver 10-4 and seemed to spend most of the period in the Canucks’ zone. John McCarthy made it 2-1 when he scored on a one-timer from the slot at 17:09 of the second after a nice pass out of the corner from Scott Hannan.
Lack did his best work midway through the second period when he made back-to-back saves on Tomas Hertl and Matt Tennyson. Moments later, he robbed James Sheppard on a backhand from in close.
“It was fun,” Lack said. “I thought I played a pretty good game ... I kind of want a couple of rebounds back, but other than I felt pretty good.”
Assistants Mike Sullivan and Glen Gulutzan ran the bench while Tortorella watched from above.
“We lost the territory game, that’s for sure,” Sullivan said. “We certainly want to be a team that’s a little more competitive as far as battling for territory and controlling territory. I thought, especially in the second period, we got out-quicked to a lot of pucks.”
Sullivan was impressed with Lack and Shinkaruk.
“I thought he was solid,” he said of Lack. “He certainly got a fair amount of work; he got tested. I thought he played a real solid game.”
“That’s a goal-scorer’s goal,” Sullivan said of Shinkaruk. “Off the angle like that, top-shelf, short-side. He’s an easy guy to like. He plays with a lot of moxie. He loves hockey.”
Joe Cannata, who replaced Lack and played the third period in goal, was also sharp. He robbed Pavelski during a 5-on-3 San Jose power play early in the third and made some other tough saves. But Wingels scored the winner at 16:07 of the third on a San Jose power play, tipping in a fanned shot by Pavelski.
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks are scheduled to practise today and will play their second of six pre-season games on Wednesday night when the Edmonton Oilers pay a visit to Rogers Arena ... Canucks’ centre Ryan Kesler logged a game-high 26:26 of ice time.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun