SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Vancouver Canucks couldn’t seem to stay out of the penalty box, and the San Jose Sharks made them pay.
The Sharks scored on three of their 10 power-play opportunities Friday in a 4-3 win over the Canucks in Game 3 of the Western Conference final.
Two of San Jose’s power-play goals came in the first 10 minutes of the game and helped the Sharks cut Vancouver’s series lead to 2-1.
“We changed a few things around but they have a lot of weapons and they come right at you,” Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows said. “We just have to take fewer penalties than we did tonight.”
The Canucks took three penalties in the first two games combined. They took 11 in game three.
“We spent six minutes in the box out of the first 10,” Burrows said. “That’s going to make it tough. As long as we keep executing and making plays we’ll be fine.”
When Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis were in the game, whether together or paired with another defenceman, the Sharks found the going treacherous in Vancouver’s zone.
But Bieksa took three of Vancouver’s 11 penalties, including a hooking call with less than a minute left in regulation as the Canucks pressed for the tying goal.
“When you look at our 5-on-5 play, we were playing well,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. “When you give those guys the chances we did, they are going to score.”
Vancouver had power-play chances of its own, including a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities in the second period. But the Canucks, owners of the most efficient power play in the NHL during the regular season, couldn’t convert.
“They were blocking a lot of shots,” Sedin said. “Maybe we need to look at taking the extra pass. It was tough to take. With the chances we had, we have to score.”
The Canucks felt good about their 5-on-5 play and will likely spend some time during Saturday’s practice discussing ways to keep players on the ice.
It was a formula that worked in the first two games. The Canucks remained disciplined while the Sharks lost their composure.
This time, the Sharks were able to maintain an even keel. Vancouver never lost its grip but did make a few mistakes and lacked some discipline in the first period.
“We gave them 10 power plays and I though we were pretty disciplined,” Canucks’ coach Alan Vigneault said.
The mixing of defencemen was necessitated by the loss of Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome.
Ehrhoff suffered an upper body injury in the first period. Rome took a savage hit from Sharks’ Jamie McGinn late in the game, which resulted in a five-minute boarding penalty and a 10-minute misconduct.
The Canucks, who failed to score on their first five power plays, scored two quick goals courtesy of McGinn’s hit.
Vigneault suggested both Erhoff and Rome will miss Sunday’s game four.
“We have some great defencemen out of the lineup right now and we have to band together,” said Daniel Sedin. “That’s no excuse. It was just impossible to get any offence going. We have to score on the 5-on-3 opportunities. That’s why they won.”