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Vancouver Canucks’ Henrik Sedinchecks San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture during an NHL hockey game in Vancouver on Thursday March 3, 2016. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Vancouver Canucks’ Henrik Sedinchecks San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture during an NHL hockey game in Vancouver on Thursday March 3, 2016. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

hockey

Canucks suffer familiar letdown in third period, lose to Sharks 3-2 Add to ...

Heading into the third period with a lead has not been Vancouver’s strong point this season.

Brent Burns tied the game early in the third period and Patrick Marleau scored the winner just five minutes later as the San Jose Sharks rallied to defeat the Canucks 3-2 on Thursday night.

It was the 11th time this season that Vancouver has lost after going into the final period holding the lead. It’s part of the reason why the Canucks find themselves now a distant 10 points behind Minnesota and Colorado for the final playoff spot in the West and fading fast.

“We played hard for 40 minutes,” said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin. “I don’t think we didn’t play hard in the third, it’s just that they scored on the power play, you make a mistake, they come down on the 2-on-1, and they score again. That’s the story.”

The tying power-play goal in the third was courtesy Burns as San Jose won its third straight. Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks (35-22-6), who remain third in the Pacific division trailing the Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings. Martin Jones made 28 saves for San Jose.

The Sharks were trailing 2-0 midway in the second until Hertl scored by deflecting in a Burns blast from the blue-line. The goal was reviewed because it looked as though Hertl’s stick was high, but the call stood.

Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller, who stopped 27 shots in the loss, didn’t like the call and he expressed as much after the game.

“I am really disappointed in that call,” he said. “Rising shot and I just watched the replay and I think it’s a high stick for sure — 100 per cent high stick. I don’t know what the League is looking at. Just because it’s a goal on the ice, get it right or just get rid of the rule. It’s wishy-washy.

“Two goal lead looks a lot better to us and it might have made a difference.”

Jake Virtanen and Sven Baertschi scored for the Canucks (24-27-12), who lost their third straight and will head out on the road for another meeting with the Sharks on Saturday.

Virtanen was electric in the first period. At 7:14 he whipped a shot at Jones, then grabbed his own rebound and skated around the net before banking it in off Joe Pavelski’s skate.

He recorded an assist on Vancouver’s second goal as Dan Hamhuis fired a puck through traffic that Baertschi deflected in.

“I’m feeling confident each and every game,” said Virtanen. “We’re going to have to find that group confidence as well. We’re up by two there in the first and we have to find ways to hold on to that and keep pushing even if we get another one. Those are ones we can’t be losing and we have to work on that for sure.”

Marleau scored the go-ahead goal at 14:31 of the third as Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi skated up the boards before dishing it to Marleau for the smooth one-timer.

Despite being down a goal going into the third, Marleau said his team had confidence it was a just a matter of time before they would get back in the game.

“We know we can do it,” said Marleau. “We play a certain way. We know we are going to get our chances. It’s just a matter of burying those chances and sticking with it.”

Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer says his group of veterans know when it’s time to pick up the pace.

“This group, they’re a mature group and they know when they’re not playing the right way or up to par,” he said. “They recognize it and quickly fix it. And I think that was the case tonight.”

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