The Vancouver Canucks dropped the opener of their four-game swing through California (come on, Arizona is basically a part of California, right?) but it won’t get any easier.
After a disappointing shootout finale in Phoenix on Tuesday – where the Canucks lost a 2-1 lead and a 3-2 final score in a game where the team’s were separated by one shot and a few inches on Antoine Vermette’s one-on-one winner with Roberto Luongo – Vancouver heads to San Jose on Thursday night.
The Sharks have struggled a little lately although their play in this calendar year has been, for the most part, extraordinary. In two games against the Canucks this season, San Jose has handily won both by 4-1 margins. Their coming off a postseason sweep of the Canucks in Round 1 of last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, which ended with a razor-thin seven-game loss to the L.A. Kings in Round 2.
Still, the fins have won just two of their last six games, and they’re looking to bounce back against a Vancouver team they have owned since 2011.
“This was a fear of mine that we’d be complacent and that we would turn it up when we thought we had to and that’s exactly what we got,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told TSN, on his team’s recent sputter. “I thought we were outworked for a large part of the game (against Buffalo) and outdetailed.
“We weren’t nearly what we needed to be to play against anybody in the league.”
The Sharks enter Thursday’s game having won their last nine games against Vancouver and have yet to lose a game at home (in regulation) this season, going 5-0-2 to start 2013 in the Shark Tank.
The Coyotes also haven’t yet lost a game in regulation at home, improving to 6-0-2 with their win over Vancouver on Tuesday:
“I think we’re a really good team when we play the way we can and we’ve shown that the last seven or eight games,” Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin told NHL.com. “It wasn’t pretty (on Tuesday) but we got pucks deep and battled hard and created some chances. This was a good start to our road trip. We battled hard in a tough building.”
Henrik is currently on a 12-game point streak, putting up three goals and 14 assists over that span. The slick Swede is also tied for second in league scoring with 20 points.
Daniel has 17 points on the year through 17 games, and Ryan Kesler has nine goals to go with four assists.