VANCOUVER – Cory Schneider made up for a poor performance with an exceptional one Tuesday night.
Schneider recorded 23 saves as he backstopped the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in NHL pre-season action Tuesday night.
Schneider improved his pre-season record to 1-2 and atoned for his showing when he went the distance in an 8-2 loss Sunday in Edmonton.
“I couldn’t follow it up with another bad performance, so I put a little pressure on myself that I’d like to respond,”Schneider said.
The Sharks outshot the Canucks 24-22 but Schneider, a 24-year-old Marblehead, Mass., product who is already pencilled in as Vancouver’s backup goaltender after three seasons in the minors, was especially sharp in the first and third period and avoided a letdown after facing just two shots in the second.
“It’s never easy not seeing a lot of shots there for an extended period of time, but I’ll take two shots over 20,”said Schneider, chosen the game’s first star.“It’s up to me to me to sharp. I was a little slow on (San Jose’s) goal there (in the second period.) But I think I had to be sharp in the third period.”
Mikael Samuelsson, Mason Raymond and Jeff Tambellini scored for the Canucks as they improved to 2-4 in pre-season.
Dany Heatley replied for the Sharks, who dropped to 1-4.
The Canucks iced a mainly veteran lineup while the Sharks left several regulars, including top centre Joe Thornton, at home. Antti Niemi, who backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup title last spring, did go the distance in goal for San Jose.
But Schneider outperformed him as the Canucks led 2-0 and 3-0 before a scoreless third in which Schneider was kept busy. After the outshooting the Sharks 13-2 in the second period, the Canucks were outshot 13-4 in the third.
Early in the third, Schneider stopped Scott Nichol on a short-handed breakaway and stayed strong the rest of the way.
In other words, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault got the rebound performance he was expecting from Schneider after the shellacking in Edmonton.
“Obviously, for us tonight, that was one thing that we wanted to see, and I think he responded well,”Vigneault said.“After we took that 3-1 lead, they took it to another level in that third period when our puck-management decisions there needed to be a little bit better than they were. But when we did make those mistakes, he stepped up and made the right saves at the right time.”
San Jose coach Todd McLellan was also impressed with Schneider’s play in the third. But he thought his club could have delivered a better effort in the first 40 minutes.
“He didn’t have to work very hard the first two periods,”McLellan said.“We were sluggish, slow, second to a lot of pucks, but in the third we made him work a little bit more and he made some very good saves in tight on the scramble-type situations, where he could get down and use his big body and block (the puck). He was very effective there.”
Raymond’s goal at 11:02 of the first proved to be the winner as he beat Niemi with a sweeping backhand. The Sharks outshot the Canucks 9-5 in the opening 20 minutes, but could not beat Schneider.
The former Manitoba Moose and Boston College standout is expected to play approximately 20 games this season as No. 1 Roberto Luongo receives more time off than in previous campaigns. Bearing that in mind, Schneider set out to impress Canucks management and teammates.
“I had a bad game Sunday, so I wanted to show them that they could have faith in me and that they could put me into games and not have to worry whether we were going to win the game or not,”Schneider said.
His only goal against came in blur after an untimely bounce. With just under four minutes left in the second, Heatley reduced Vancouver’s lead to 3-1 as Vancouver’s Manny Malhotra blocked a shot from the blue-line and the puck came down to Heatley on the edge of the crease.
“(The puck) kind of popped out,”said Schneider.“I didn’t know if he was going to reach it. All of a sudden, he kind of collected it and stuffed it under me in one motion and it kind of caught me off guard a little bit. I was a little slow getting there. It’s just one of those fluky goals.
“But, fortunately, I was able to shut the door.”
NOTES: Brendan Morrison and Peter Schaefer, in Canucks camp on tryouts, were both scratched. They have two pre-season games left to make the grade.…Luongo remained sidelined with a groin injury suffered Saturday against Anaheim.…The Sharks are looking for a new captain following the retirement of defenceman Rob Blake.…Vancouver prospect Sergei Shirokov is undergoing additional off-ice conditioning after coach Alain Vigneault was not impressed with his fitness level. Shirokov was considered a strong candidate to make the Canucks but now is in danger of starting the season in the minors.