The Vancouver Canucks were just over a minute away
from celebrating a hard-earned victory Thursday.
They were instead left to ponder what went wrong against an
opponent that almost always has their number.
Tomas Hertl tied the score on a broken play with 65 seconds left
in regulation and Dan Boyle won it on the power play at 2:38 of
overtime as the San Jose Sharks stormed back to stun the Canucks
Vancouver had killed 28 straight power plays until Boyle beat
Roberto Luongo with a shot that needed video review.
"It sucks," said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who scored
his first of the season for Vancouver. "Sometimes you're on the
wrong end of these kind of games.
"Getting a point is a positive against the top teams but two
points was right there. It's early in the season. You don't want to
get too down on yourself, but we deserved those two points."
The Sharks have now won 10 of their last 11 against the Canucks.
Vancouver led late in the third period until Boyle's flubbed shot
from the point found its way to Hertl at the side of the goal. The
Czech teenager buried his chance past a helpless Luongo for his 11th
of the season, which leads all rookies.
Canucks captain Henrik Sedin was then whistled for hooking in
overtime and the Sharks' power play clicked.
"We played a great game. I thought they got a really lucky break
on their tying goal and they get a power play in OT and that's it,"
said Luongo, who finished with 28 saves. "That's how close the NHL
is. We're a minute away from playing, what I thought was a really
great game, and all of a sudden it turns into a loss."
Antti Niemi made 34 saves for the Sharks (12-2-5), who came in
having dropped five of their last six and were outplayed for long
stretches on Thursday.
"This becomes the game you hear hockey people talk about the
hockey gods, where it starts to even out," said Sharks head coach
Todd McLellan. "We weren't the better team tonight and we have been
on the other end of that where we were the better team and found a
way not to win it. Tonight we found a way to come back."
In a scheduling quirk, Thursday's game was the final
regular-season meeting between the Canucks (11-7-3) and Sharks in
2013-14, with San Jose winning three and losing one.
"It's a kick in the teeth to lose it but looking at the big
picture and some of the things we did against a pretty good hockey
club, that's what we are going to take out of this," said Canucks
coach John Tortorella. "We played a really good game right on
Bieksa broke the scoreless tie on the power play at 13:40 of the
second period when his shot from the point found its way through
traffic past Niemi. Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows missed a
glorious chance moments earlier before Henrik Sedin fed Bieksa for
The goal snapped a 2-for-28 drought for Vancouver with the man
advantage and was just the Canucks' third power-play goal at Rogers
Arena all season.
Niemi kept the Canucks from doubling their lead with a big stop
on Ryan Kesler with five minutes to go in the period.
Canucks forward Chris Higgins had a chance off the rush early in
the third that Niemi was equal to before the Sharks, who had just 17
shots through two periods, started to come on.
After Henrik Sedin missed a wide-open net off a feed from his
brother Daniel Sedin, Luongo made a big glove save on San Jose
forward James Sheppard with under eight minutes to go.
"We're trying to find ways," said Boyle. "That's what it's all
about and in this league with the extra points they are giving now
it's just going to come down to the end of the year and you never
know which extra point is going to solidify your playoff position or
have you on the outside."
The Canucks returned home Thursday after a 1-2-1 road trip
against Pacific Division rivals, with the only victory coming in 4-2
decision over the Sharks on Nov. 7.
Playing their first home game since a 4-0 victory over the
Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 2, the Canucks had a couple of early
chances in a first period that was short on action.
Niemi stopped Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev on a chance in the
high slot five minutes in before shooting out his left pad to stop
Mike Santorelli on the doorstep a few moments later.
Vancouver's No. 1-ranked penalty kill was put to the test midway
through the period when defenceman Alexander Edler was whistled for
interference. The Sharks moved the puck around to Joe Thornton, but
the San Jose captain's heavy shot from the top of the faceoff circle
rang off the crossbar behind Luongo and stayed out.
"You're not going to win every game you play great and sometimes
you don't deserve to win and you're going to win," said Luongo.
"That's the way the NHL is. I think the main thing is we can't put
our heads down."