VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks are looking for heroes—unsung or otherwise—as they prepare for Game 3 of their Western Conference quarter-final with the San Jose Sharks.
With Games 3 and 4 go Sunday and Tuesday in Silicon Valley, the Canucks are hoping to close the gap on the Sharks, who lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 after claiming the first two contests in Vancouver.
“Whether you want to call (them) difference makers or heroes, somebody’s got to step up and make a difference,” coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday before the Canucks headed to San Jose.
The situation is eerily familiar to a year ago, when the Canucks were in the same situation against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, dropping the first two games in Vancouver before getting a split in Southern California to earn another game at home. Vigneault’s crew must gain at least a split in San Jose to take the series back to Vancouver.
However, the Canucks’ challenge is huge as they try to rebound from a heart-breaking 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks in Game 2. Vancouver held a 2-1 lead before Patrick Marleau tied the game in the final minute and Raffi Torris gave San Jose the win five and a half minutes into the extra session.
Vigneault says his players must be angry after coming within a couple of seconds of getting a win as Jannik Hansen missed a shot at an empty net with just over a minute left in regulation time.
“I don’t think we drop it at all,” added Canucks forward Ryan Kesler, who scored both of his team’s goals in Game 2. “We felt like we should have won. It didn’t happen. We need to channel that frustration and take that frustration into Game 2, and play the same way and channel in the positive energy.”
Following the loss, Kesler called on his team to move on and focus on Game 3. But he wants his club to play the same way it did Friday.
“It’s 0-0 again, and we can easily turn this series around with one game,” he said.
The Sharks took all three regular-season meetings from the Canucks this year and San Jose lost only two games at home in regulation time during the lockout-shortened campaign.
“We came close this year,” said Vancouver winger Alex Burrows. “We’ve won in there before. We’ve played some good games in their building. It’s the same ice sheet, it’s the same dimensions as Rogers Arena. We play a good game, I’m sure we can get it done.”
In calling for heroes or difference-makers, Vigneault said Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the team’s top scorers, must “step up.” Henrik Sedin indicated he and his brother, who both earned an assist Friday, are confident they can produce some important goals after being shut out thus far.
“We have produced in the past,” said Henrik Sedin. “We have shown we can score. There is always pressure on the top players to produce.”
He says the Canucks have no pressure as they face a must-win situation.
“No one is believing in us apart from us,” said Sedin. “That’s the way we have to look at it.”
He recalled the Canucks overcame a 2-1 opening-round series deficit to Los Angeles en route to advancing to the Stanley Cup final in 2010-11. Accordingly, Sharks coach Todd McLellan wants to make sure his players do not let up at home.
“We’ve got two (wins.) We can’t be happy with two,” he said. “We’ve gotta shoot for three now.”
Notes: Vancouver centre Jordan Schroeder, who has split the season between the Canucks and the minors but has yet to play in this series, made the trip to San Jose. Vigneault said Schroeder was included because he wanted to take five forward lines on the trip. … Vigneault says injured No. 1 goaltender Cory Schneider’s status is still day-to-day.