Coming off perhaps their worst defensive effort of the season, the San Jose Sharks are looking to get their road trip back on track. They will try to do so in a matchup with the Vancouver Canucks, a team they have dominated of late.
The Sharks (43-16-10) fell to 0-2-0 on their six-game trip with an 8-2 loss to Dallas on Tuesday. San Jose allowed its highest goal total since an 8-0 defeat at Phoenix on Dec. 30, 2006.
“The scoreboard doesn’t lie,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan, whose team has not lost four straight since an 0-2-3 slide from Dec. 3-12. “It went from bad to worse. I can’t stand here and make excuses for them. Obviously everybody watched it, saw how poorly we played. It wasn’t something that we can just go pick two or three guys. It was a full team so it was very frustrating.”
Even the usually steady Evgeni Nabokov(notes), among the league leaders with 37 wins and a 2.37 goals-against average, was off his game. He allowed four goals on 17 shots before being replaced by Thomas Greiss(notes) in the second period.
Nabokov should be back in net Thursday to try for his eighth straight victory over the Canucks. In the teams’ only meeting this season, he made 25 saves in a 4-2 win at GM Place on Nov. 29.
San Jose has won six of eight in Vancouver and eight of nine overall in the series.
While the Sharks try to improve their 3-3-1 record since the Olympic break, Vancouver (43-24-3) is looking to bounce back from Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders, who had not won a road game since Jan. 9. The Canucks had won seven straight at home.
Vancouver seems unlikely to do that against Western Conference-leading San Jose, which is seven points ahead of the Northwest-Division-leading Canucks.
“Should be for a good game,” Luongo told the team’s official Web site. “Two teams that (had) disappointing losses, both teams obviously want to get back at it and have a good game.”
Vancouver, though, won’t have Samuelsson after he suffered an upper-body injury Tuesday. The fifth-round draft pick by San Jose in 1998 has 11 goals and five assists in his last 12 games.
“He’s been playing really well,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Obviously he was contributing to our success and it’s something we’ll have to deal with.”
Canucks leading scorer Alex Burrows(notes) has six goals in the last nine games and will take Samuelsson’s spot on the top line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin(notes), who is on an 11-game point streak. He has three goals and 14 assists during that stretch but recorded just three points in his last seven games versus San Jose.
Burrows is having a career season with 32 goals and 59 points, most coming alongside the Sedins before losing that spot.
The Sharks host the Canucks on March 27 and April 8.