Not too long ago, an NHL game between the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks would have matched two of the best teams in the Western Conference, and two electric offences bound to liven up any arena.
That was not the case Thursday, however.
The Sharks entered the contest in 11th place in the conference, and Rogers Arena was a dead zone. There was little goal-scoring, and even less atmosphere.
In the end, the two goaltenders stole the show and San Jose walked off with its third straight victory, 2-1 in a shootout.
Vancouver's Roberto Luongo made 45 saves, including a glove stop on Joe Thornton during a third-period breakaway, and a point-blank save on Thornton during overtime. San Jose's Antti Niemi was just as good, though, making 36 saves and thwarting several Canucks attempts during a four-on-three power play in overtime.
Joe Pavelski was the fourth shootout participant, and the first to score. He heaped pressure on Ryan Kesler to extend the shootout with a goal, but even with a length-of-the-ice run-up, the Canucks centre couldn't beat Niemi.
Entering the game, the Canucks were 21-1-4 when scoring first, and they notched the all-important first goal thanks to more wizardry from the Sedin twins. Daniel hit a streaking Henrik, who finished with one hand for his 10th goal of the season. But Vancouver was thoroughly outplayed in the second period. The Sharks outshot the home side 25-9 in the middle period, and tied the game on a goal by Logan Couture. It was the rookie's 21st of the season, and he remains a strong candidate for the Calder Trophy.
The Canucks' secondary scoring has disappeared in the last 10 games, and some prolonged draughts continued Thursday. Mikael Samuelsson has just one assist in his last 13 games, while Jeff Tambellini, who was benched for the third period, is without a point in 12 games and Manny Malhotra hasn't dotted the scoresheet in 11 contests. Mason Raymond and Raffi Torres have but three points apiece in their last 11. If the Canucks fancy themselves Stanley Cup contenders, this simply can't continue.
Living the Dream
A 22-year-old from Surrey, B.C. was given the chance to wear an NHL uniform, take an NHL warm-up, and sit on an NHL bench. The Sharks summoned Jordan White from the University of British Columbia after Antero Niittymaki injured his groin in the morning skate during a shootout drill. White signed a one-game amateur tryout earlier Thursday, and dressed as Antti Niemi's backup. "I would have wanted to make it on different terms, and hopefully that's still a possibility for me, but I'll take it any way I can," White said prior to the game. "The whole day has been kind of an overwhelming experience. Friends are kind of excited to watch the game and just having you guys [the media scrum]here is something I don't usually get at my own home games." Alas, there was no fairytale ending to this story. White sat the bench.