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Kids Look Good, Learn Lesson in Loss to San Jose

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The Vancouver Canucks iced a youth-heavy lineup against San Jose on Thursday. In the end, a strong first period effort wasn't enough to defeat the surging Sharks. Maybe that's a good thing in the long run.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Willie Desjardins said the Canucks have to work hard and get the most out of the remaining games. It was clear from the outset, the Vancouver Canucks' youth brigade was fired up. That's precisely the kind of excitement that will keep fans interested through the balance of the schedule.

First Period

San Jose hemmed the Canucks in their zone for most of the first couple minutes. The Canucks' first two shots came from a distance and were handled easily by Martin Jones.

The kid third line of Brendan Gaunce - Bo Horvat - Linden Vey had great pressure five minutes in, hemming the Sharks fourth line in their own zone. Gaunce had a chance for a nice tip in at the net front. Horvat was hooked, sending the Canucks to the power play. The team initially struggled to enter the zone, finally getting possession on a Vey dump in. Despite pressure, they got no shots until Horvat was able to get in on a nice rush with less than 30 sec. left in the power play.

Jake Virtanen scored when he collected his own rebound after he shot on a rush down left wing. The puck was juggled by Martin Jones and picked up by Virtanen on the wrap around at 7:14. Shots on goal were 10-1 Vancouver.

Halfway through the period, Sven Baertschi made a strong move to net, treating Roman Polak like a pylon and leading to another great chance for Virtanen. Jake made another great play shortly after, stealing the puck at the Sharks blue line as San Jose attempted to break out.

Continuous back and forth action throughout the middle part of first was interrupted with just under five minutes left in the period when Dan Hamhuis held and took down Joonas Donskoi. Halfway through the kill Burrows rushed down the right wing shorthanded, beating Jones but putting the puck off the crossbar. Overall, the Sharks didn't have much zone time.

With just over two minutes left in the first, Ryan Miller made a great stop on Patrick Marleau's wrap around attempt.

The second line ratcheted up the pressure in the Sharks zone again. A Virtanen shot hit Markus Granlund, who carried it back to point, passed to Hamhuis, and Baertschi scored.

Overall, a great start to the game for the Canucks two youthful lines. Virtanen looked all-world, Baertschi had chances. The Brendan Gaunce - Bo Horvat - Linden Vey line had some excellent shifts. And Emerson Etem was in great goal scoring position on shifts with The Twins

Doug MacLean told a story on the intermission panel designed to caution Jim Benning to be careful what he wished for during these last 20 games. When he was in Columbus, the Blue Jackets won a very late season game in Vancouver. While the players were momentarily happy, MacLean realized the win caused Columbus to switch draft position with the Washington Capitals. And that's how the Capitals ended up with Alexander Ovechkin.

Second Period

San Jose started the second in much higher gear. Less than a minute in, a Matt Bartkowski giveaway led to a Joe Pavelski shot and Ryan Miller save. The next three shifts all took place in the Vancouver end, helping San Jose to an 8-0 shot advantage two minutes in

Derek Dorsett slashed Joe Thornton six and a half minutes into the second. Vancouver had a great chance at a shorthanded goal when two Sharks collided, giving the Canucks a shorthanded 3-on-1. Unfortunately, Etem couldn't put it home. His miss was costly.

Just over halfway through the period, the Canucks failed to clear the zone, seemingly mesmerized by Brenden Dillion, who was struggling to get to his bench on one skate blade. Brent Burns shot from the point, and it was deflected in by Tomas Hertl. The officials reviewed the deflection for a high stick, but ruled a good goal.

After the game, Ryan Miller was angry Hertl's goal was allowed to stand.

The Canucks finally got some zone time for a shift and a bit after the San Jose goal but didn't look dangerous.

Choppy play continued through the middle part of the period, and Vancouver lacked the energy they had in the first as Sharks asserted themselves.

Daniel Sedin hit Joe Thronton headfirst into the Canucks bench with about five minutes left in the period.

Ben Hutton was called for putting his hand on the puck after Joe Pavelski took him down. Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis killed the entire penalty, while Gaunce and Granlund worked the tail end of the penalty kill.

Daniel Sedin high sticked Nick Spalling for Vancouver's fourth straight penalty with less than a minute left in the period. While Sharks had good possession in the Vancouver zone, they didn't score.

As on Sunday, the Canucks carried a one goal lead into the third. And just like on Sunday, the Canucks failed to close the game out.

Dan Murphy caught John Garrett powering up on everyone's favorite Easter candy during the second intermission.

Third Period

San Jose won a face off in the Canucks zone on the power play. Brent Burns shot from the blue line through a Joe Pavelski screen 43 seconds into the period for a goal Ryan Miller didn't seem to like.

Four minutes in, Alex Burrows and Derek Dorsett combined on a two on one. Dorsett shot, but didn't get it high enough to beat Martin Jones.

Joonas Donskoi and Patrick Marleau took advantage of a Dan Hamhuis pinch for a 2-on-1. Matt Bartkoski blocked Donskoi's first pass attempt, but he lost the angle on Donskoi's second attempt to pass. Marleau scored at 5:39.

San Jose shut things down pretty effectively through the next five minutes. They possessed the puck and repelled the Canucks attempts to gain the San Jose zone. With just under 10 min left, Brendan Gaunce had a strong shift, helping get pressure in the Sharks zone and getting a shot on goal.

Dorsett, Tanev, and Sbisa were among the Canucks with chances in the last six minutes. After Ryan Miller was pulled with just under 2 minutes left, the four forward unit consisted of the Sedins, Emerson Etem, and Sven Baertschi,

Daniel Sedin had the only real dangerous chance of the 6-on-5, but Martin Jones robbed him on a close in chance.

There were good signs for the Canucks on the night -- Jake Virtanen was a beast in the first, Sven Baertschi looked offensively dangerous, Markus Granlund looked better than advertised, Brendan Gaunce looked more relaxed and totally competent as a third line winger. But when San Jose woke up in the second period, the Canucks could not match them.

Watching the kids down the stretch will be exciting at times, and test our patience at times, as the rookies learn hard lessons about playing in the NHL.

Up next, it's a Saturday night visit to the Shark Tank. VanCity Dan has you covered with what will surely be another of his terrific post-game write ups/critiques of Hockey Night in Canada. It promises to be great as usual.