Canucks-Sharks Preview


San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan clearly wasn't happy with his team's performance against one of the NHL's worst clubs, even if it may have gotten robbed of a victory due to a blown call.

He hasn't had much to be displeased about after San Jose's recent matchups with the Vancouver Canucks, though.

The Sharks look to end a three-game losing streak Thursday night by defeating the visiting Canucks for the 10th straight time.

San Jose (10-1-4) appeared to score in overtime against league-worst Buffalo on Tuesday, but the official claimed he intended to blow the whistle to stop play after losing sight of the puck. The Sharks would go on to lose 5-4 in a shootout to extend their skid, with each defeat coming after regulation.

McLellan didn't discuss the questionable play, focusing more on his team's lack of effort throughout the contest, which he said has become a trend after San Jose's hot start.

"This was a fear of mine, that we'd be complacent and decide to play when we needed," McLellan said. "That's exactly what happened. We were outworked and outdetailed for a large part of the game. We weren't nearly what we needed to be to play against anybody. We were flat and we didn't have a lot of energy.

"We played 10 minutes the way we wanted. The other 55 we weren't very good. That's as poorly as we've played all year."

Martin Havlat and rookie Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist apiece, but Logan Couture echoed his coach's thoughts.

''We can't lose that game,'' Couture said. ''We didn't play very well. We were sloppy with turnovers and sloppy on the power play. We didn't show up ready to play. We waited until the third period to show up and we got a point.''

The Sharks haven't had those issues against Vancouver recently while winning the last nine matchups, including a first-round sweep in last season's playoffs.

San Jose has taken each meeting this season by a 4-1 score, winning Oct. 3 and then again exactly one week later. Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns scored in each contest.

The Canucks (10-5-2) will look to end their skid in the series while bouncing back from a 3-2 shootout loss to Phoenix on Tuesday. Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Kesler scored for Vancouver, which had won five of six.

Kesler's goal came on the power play, and he has been aggressive in front of the net on that unit, much to the delight of coach John Tortorella. Though he'd like to continue seeing that type of play with the man advantage, Tortorella wants his players to freelance a bit as well.

Vancouver ranks near the bottom of the league having converted just 10.9 percent of its power-play chances.

"We want to have a foundation of a set up, and then I want them to play," Tortorella said. "I want them to have creativity to take over. I don't want to school them too much. I want to just take what they give us."

Roberto Luongo made 30 saves Tuesday, and he could be in net again for this contest. Luongo has a 3.21 goals-against average while losing his last four starts against the Sharks, who likely will counter with Antti Niemi in goal.

Niemi has a 1.60 GAA while starting each game during San Jose's winning streak against Vancouver.