The Vancouver Canucks may not have been able to beat the San Jose Sharks on Monday night, but a shootout loss showed the team still has the stuff it takes to get back in the Stanley Cup final.
Playing their fifth game in eight nights, the Canucks managed to fight off a terrible second period that saw them outshot 17-2 and still find a way to salvage a point. The biggest way was through goaltender Roberto Luongo, who appears to have found his form after an uneven start to the season (take note what goaltending does, Leaf fans).
Luongo kept the Sharks at bay while his teammates and their league-leading power play was foundering in the third period. And Luongo made some big saves while the Canucks were killing a penalty in the third period with the Sharks ahead 2-1. Then again, since the Sharks power play occurred when Luongo was called for playing the puck outside the trapezoid, he had lots of incentive to fight off the visitors.
The main thing was that even though the Canucks were tired, they found a way to get a point against a good opponent. That's what the good teams do.
"This is a team where when we're not playing good enough to win, we're still in games," Canucks forward Henrik Sedin told the Vancouver Sun. "It wasn't 100-per-cent tonight. I thought a lot of guys were battling and we stuck with them. There are going to be a lot of games when you're not feeling good, but you've got to battle."
Despite the already tough schedule the Canucks have had since Christmas, the next two weeks do not get any easier. They will play the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Northwest Division on Wednesday. Then they will kick off a four-game road trip in Boston on Saturday with their first meeting with the Bruins since their contentious Stanley Cup final series last June. Then the trip finishes with three games in different cities in four nights – against the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues.
If the Canucks can keep up the pace, their fans will be reassured their team has what it takes to defend its Western Conference title.