With their season tilting in the balance and with their effort level cranked up to a series high, the Vancouver Canucks found themselves in overtime Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks when Daniel Sedin collided with Tommy Wingels, a shoulder-to-shoulder collision that knocked Wingels into the boards.
Sedin received a minor penalty on the play – and on the ensuing power play, the Sharks won the game on a goal by Patrick Marleau. It was the third time in the game the Canucks surrendered a power-play goal – making it six for the last two games. Undisciplined penalties in the first-period to Derek Roy and in the third to Kevin Bieksa were well-deserved and set the stage for both of Joe Pavelski's power-play goals.
But the call against Daniel Sedin was iffy, and his brother, team captain Henrik Sedin, called it "BS" post-game, outside the disappointed Canucks' dressing room. As for Daniel, he received a 10-minute misconduct for abusive language, not that it mattered at that stage of the proceedings.
"They're tough calls," said Canucks' defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who'd made himself a focal point the day before by criticizing the Sharks' Logan Couture and Joe Thornton for embellishing infractions to draw calls. "You're in overtime, and two guys are battling on the wall, and one guy out-battles the other guy and he goes hard into the boards – you'll see that every 30 seconds in the St. Louis-LA series and you don't see it called.
"But we put ourselves in this situation, where we're down 3-0 and one bad call against us could cost us the game. That's the way it is. We can't just look at this one game, or this one penalty. It was four games of non-executing."
The call against Daniel Sedin notwithstanding, the Canucks did a poor job overall of showing discipline in the series and the Sharks constantly made them pay for their infractions.
"You've got to show respect and keep doing the same things and we're going to get the benefit of the doubt sometimes," said Henrik Sedin, who called the loss "very disappointing. Last year, was a different feeling. We played a very good team (the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings) and they were hard-fought games too. But this year, if you look at our line-up, this is not the way we wanted to go out.
"It was like a first-time playoff team playing a team that had been there before. We're in the box too many times, in scrums after whistles. Their best guys again scored goals on the power play and gained momentum. That's very disappointing."
The window of opportunity is closing on the Canucks, something Sedin acknowledged may be true.
"We talked about it before this year in particular. There's a lot of guys who've been here for a lot of years and together for a long time. You don't get these chances a lot of years, where you have a line-up like we had this year. So it is very disappointing."
Burrows had his strongest game of the series by far, creating a screen in front of goaltender Antti Niemi on Mason Raymond's first-period goal and then scoring on a third-period power play to tie the game 2-2. From there, he also set up Alex Edler for the go-ahead goal, one of the rare times the Canucks held a lead in the series.
"We can't blame the refs, we have only ourselves to blame," said Burrows who, like a lot of players, didn't want to speculate about what may happen next for this core group, given how they've lost in the first round in two consecutive seasons.
For Bieksa, whose crosschecking penalty against Wingels set the stage for the tying San Jose goal and forced overtime, going out in the first round for the second consecutive year "sucks. There's no way to sugarcoat it."
As for goaltender Cory Schneider, he stopped 43 of 47 shots in his second consecutive start of the series and had a much improved performance from two days earlier, when he got the hook after giving up five goals.
"It's frustrating," said Schneider. "It just seems like a lost year for some of these guys and myself included. You realize, you really don't get too many opportunities to play in the playoffs and get a chance to win a Stanley Cup. Any time you lose an opportunity, it's not a very good feeling."