Special teams Shark-bit as losing skid hits eight
SAN JOSE, Calif. — If the Vancouver Canucks are having nightmares about killing penalties, it shouldn’t surprise anyone.
The Canucks played very well at even strength here on Friday night against the San Jose Sharks, but still lost 4-0.
It was their not-so-special teams that told the story.
The Canucks’ penalty kill has surrendered goals in seven consecutive games now, their opponents scoring 10 times in total.
And on their own power plays, the Canucks went goalless for the first time in six games.
The Canucks have done many good things over the past eight games, but have nothing to show for it except a point in a Nov. 10 shootout loss.
The Sharks got power-play goals from Logan Couture, Timo Meier and Erik Karlsson. Melker Karlsson — with his first of the year — added an even strength goal. Here’s what else we learned Friday at the SAP Center:
THE PENALTY KILL
Playing without Brandon Sutter has becoming a full-blown crisis. Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning said before the game the veteran centre isn’t expected back any time soon.
Sutter is Vancouver’s best penalty killer. In his absence, the Canucks have been leaning on Markus Granlund and Tim Schaller. They were on the ice for all three power-play goals against on Friday.
Future Hall of Famer Joe Thornton is the Sharks’ third line centre. That’s a luxury.
With Sutter — who would be Vancouver’s third centre — out of the lineup, the Canucks have been leaning heavily on Bo Horvat in all situations. He’s done well.
Elias Pettersson continues working to create offence, but the burden on him and Horvat has become heavy. Their opposing numbers are Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture, two of the game’s top centres.
THE SOUND OF CRISPNESS
The Sharks are Stanley Cup contenders. Their breakouts happen quickly and feature fast, crisp puck movement.
LIMITED ICE TIME
The Canucks spent 5:51 on the penalty kill in the first period, limiting ice time at even strength for a number of forwards such as Jake Virtanen.
ROUSSEL NO. 1
After Antoine Roussel was called for delay of game, Logan Couture of the Sharks scored a power-play goal to open the scoring just seconds later.
ROUSSEL NO. 2
In the final minute, the frustrated Roussel fought with Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Replays suggest Roussel may have bitten Vlasic’s hand. If the NHL’s department of player safety agrees, expect a suspension.