By Ben Leonard
AP photo: San Jose Sharks Joe Pavelski takes a shot against Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom Saturday night
SAN JOSE, Calif.–Recently, when the Sharks have fallen behind, they have their opponent right where they want them. Being down heading into the third period had been no trouble for the Sharks, who had won two of their last three games in that fashion.
However, on Saturday, major penalty kill woes and undisciplined play were simply too much for the Comeback Kids to overcome, falling 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks. Linden Vey, Daniel Sedin, and Dan Hamhuis all scored on power plays to help propel the Canucks to the victory.
Coming into Saturday, the Sharks were tied for fourth in the NHL with 71 third period goals, and had scored 9 in their last three games. It all seemed to be going according to plan heading into the third, with San Jose down 2-1 heading into the third. Center Michael Haley had scored in the first period for San Jose, his first of the season, but evidently got too amped up about the milestone and picked up a double minor penalty for high-sticking. Down a man, San Jose quickly gave up a goal to Vey, assisted by Sven Baertschi, and just a few minutes later, gave up another power play goal after center Joe Pavelski was called for tripping. That four-minute span killed the Sharks, who went 4 of 7 on the penalty kill.
The team’s play was frustrating for Pavelski: “After we scored that first goal, we started taking a lot of penalties — a lot of soft ones too. It was everybody, and was one of those nights where we just couldn’t stay out of the box….When you only have to kill a few a night, it makes it a lot easier.”
Overall, it was a sloppy performance for the Sharks, who picked up seven penalties and struggled on special teams. In spite of that, they almost found a way to pull a win out of their hat. Newly acquired goalie James Reimer did his best to keep San Jose in the game, not surrendering a goal when the team was at full strength. Brent Burns tied the game up with fifteen minutes left in the third, assisted by Joe Thornton and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but it was to no avail.
Hamhuis netted yet another power play goal with 9:32 left to play, and the Sharks couldn’t muster any more magic. The Sharks got off 16 shots in the third, but none of them found the back of the net. Vancouver ended up icing the game with an empty net goal at the 17:54 mark, leaving many at the SAP Center filing for the exits.