For the sixth consecutive game, the Vancouver Canucks fell short on home ice in the playoffs, dropping a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
The storyline of the first period was one we’ve become all too familiar with. Roberto Luongo delivered another solid 20 minutes of hockey while his offense generated absolutely zero support for him, with the Canucks managing just four shots on net in the opening period.
Joe Thornton opened the scoring in the first period for the Sharks, knocking in the puck after it had bounced all around the front of the net to give San Jose a 1-0 lead at 13:22.
The Canucks were also dealt a couple tough penalties with a cross-checking call against Jason Garrison at 6:13. Garrison took a stick to the face while down on the ice, but was called for his retaliation. At 14:38, Andrew Alberts was sent off for roughing. The Canucks were able to kill off both penalties with some nice saves from Luongo.
The second period was somewhat of a morale victory for the Canucks. After generating only four shots on net in the first period, the Canucks were able to outshoot the Sharks 14-8 in the middle stanza. Vancouver was also to generate a few 2-on-1 chances, but Antti Niemi had an answer for every chance the Canucks had. Neither team scored as the Sharks maintained their 1-0 lead heading into the final period.
In the third period, Ryan Kesler took over. 59 seconds into the first period, Kesler delivered a blistering slap shot on net to tie the game at one goal a piece. Then, at 7:06, Kesler delivered another slap shot, beating Niemi top shelf to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead.
With time winding down in the third and the Canucks holding a one-goal lead, Patrick Marleau crushed all of our hearts with a late goal from a frenzy in front of Vancouver’s net to tie the game at two goals each with 55.1 seconds left.
In 2011, Raffi Torres was our hero with a last second goal against Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. In 2013, Torres ripped our hearts out as he netted the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Sharks a 2-0 series lead heading back to San Jose.
Ryan Kesler could only do so much. Roberto Luongo could only do so much. Things might have been different tonight if Vancouver’s offense hadn’t taken so long to get going. Rogers Arena has been home sweet home for the Canucks in recent times during the regular season, but Friday’s loss marked the sixth consecutive home loss in the playoffs dating back to 2011. Now, Vancouver finds themselves in a major hole. The Sharks have been dominant at HP Pavilion this year, losing just twice in regulation this season.
While Sunday’s game is not technically an elimination game, it is most certainly a do or die game for the Canucks. Lose, and the Canucks face near certain elimination. Win, and momentum could finally shift in Vancouver’s direction.
One thing remains true, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.