Canucks hope to rediscover ‘A game’ vs. Sharks

The Vancouver Canucks will look to bounce back from their first regulation home loss of the season when they host the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

The second-place Canucks missed a chance to close to within one point of first-place Vegas in the Pacific Division on Saturday night when they lost to visiting Seattle 4-3. That dropped their home record to a still-sparkling 6-1-1.

The game was tied at 2-2 before Yanni Gourde and Matty Beniers scored twice in the first seven minutes of the third period for the Kraken. Nils Hoglander scored on a deflection with just 11 seconds left, but Vancouver failed to get the tying score despite getting two more shots after that.

“Tied up going into the third, we’ve got to find a way to get that killer instinct when we don’t have our best,” Canucks center J.T. Miller said. “We’ll learn from it. Sometimes you can lose games in a better fashion than others. We had an opportunity to salvage something, and we got outworked.”

“We didn’t bring our A game,” defenseman Quinn Hughes said.

Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet pointed to some poor line changes as a big reason for the loss.

“Our changes were awful,” Tocchet said. “Long shifts. That’s .500 hockey. You can’t win with that.

“We had some awful changes. Awful changes. Changes lose you hockey games. They lose you playoff series. You have to change properly, and we didn’t.”

San Jose, which has the fewest points (seven) in the NHL thanks to a season-opening 11-game losing streak, would seem to be the perfect opponent when trying to get back on track.

The Sharks have lost all seven of their road games this season. And Vancouver easily won the first meeting between the two teams in San Jose on Nov. 2. The Canucks jumped out to a 8-0 lead after two periods and breezed to a 10-1 victory.

Hughes had five points (a goal and four assists) in that contest while Miller, Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson each had three points. Vancouver finished 4-for-5 on the power play.

It was the first of back-to-back games that saw San Jose yield 10 goals. After the second one, a 10-2 loss to Pittsburgh, general manager Mike Grier held a meeting with the team. The Sharks responded with wins over Philadelphia and Edmonton en route to splitting their six games (3-3-0) since the meeting, including a 5-1 win over visiting St. Louis on Thursday.

Mike Hoffman scored two goals and Kaapo Kahkonen made 44 saves for his first win in six starts to lead San Jose against the Blues. The Sharks scored four goals in the second period, including three in the first 3:25. Hoffman added a breakaway score near the end of the period to make it 5-0.

It was the first time this season that San Jose found itself on the right side of a laugher.

“We’ve kind of been trending in this direction,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “It just feels good to come out and play the game the way we did, and start the game the way we did. I thought we set the pace and the tempo.”

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