Ten straight wins over the San Jose Sharks.
Ten goals by the Vancouver Canucks in the last one-sided slaughter.
And a perfect ’10’ for Rick Tocchet to sound the cautionary alarm Monday at Rogers Arena.
“We’re out of our minds to think they’re not going to be ready to play,” the Canucks bench boss said of the injury-riddled and struggling Sharks. “The warning signs are there to play our game.”
Well, not enough of them did. At least not until it really mattered the most to end a two-game losing streak.
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Especially the top six on a night when the Canucks needed their creative captain to open scoring and a short-handed goal by a fourth-line grinder to help subdue the Sharks in a 3-1 victory.
J.T. Miller’s line was hemmed in its own zone on the opening shift and even iced the puck in a failed zone exit. Elias Petterson’s line had an early chance but was too quiet for too long — even though Andrei Kuzmenko hit the post. He hasn’t scored in eight games.
It was left to the bottom-six bunch to show the way before Miller would go to his knees at the top of the crease in the third period and bang home his second chance for a 3-1 lead.
Here’s what we learned as Quinn Hughes and Sam Laffertry had the other Canuck goals while Tomas Hertl replied for the Sharks:
Making some good from the bad
When Nils Hoglander was assessed a five-minute match penalty in the second period for intent to injure, it could have really jammed up the Canucks.
The winger dumped Kevin LaBlanc in the neutral zone as they got tangled up. The Sharks winger’s head also hit the ice and Hoglander then shoved him in the back of the head. The five-minute power play backfired initially when Lafferty hustled to the net to deposit a Teddy Blueger rebound for a 2-0 lead. Blueger would finish with eight shots.
The Sharks then got a power-play goal on the extended advantage early in the third period when a point shot struck Tyler Myers and Hertl was there to pounce on the loose puck and draw the Sharks to within a goal.
When all else fails, Captain Fantastic
It was almost like somebody sent a signal into the night sky.
The Canucks couldn’t score despite a shot advantage and it was left to Hughes to finish off a second-period passing sequence with Anthony Beauvillier and Hoglander.
Hughes used his new juke move to freeze a defender, then bolted to the left, and whipped a hard and accurate wrist shot to the far side.
It was the captain’s eighth goal of or the season to equal his career high.
Bottom-six mix stirs the drink
Where to start.
Dakota Joshua? Conor Garland? Blueger? Beauvillier? Lafferty? Take your pick. From Joshua heeding the coach’s call to play a quick and heavy game, to Garland showing a forechecking relentlessness, the early signs were encouraging.
Joshua showed how beating out an icing can lead to a scoring chance.
The big winger turned the first-period effort into gaining control of the puck along the end boards and then wheeled to set up Garland in the slot. It was a sign of improving times for Joshua, who has piled up hits and regained the confidence of Tocchet.
In the second period, he had a dominant penalty kill shift and a scoring chance.
“He’s a give-and go-guy. A half second quicker on his decisions and he’s a menace out there,” said Tocchet.
Same story for Garland, who had four shots.
For a guy who had permission to allow his agent broker a trade, the diminutive winger continues to play at speed, hound the opposition in the offensive zone and get to the net.
He was rammed into the sideboards by Mario Ferraro on a good shift in the opening period and drew a penalty. Guys who want out don’t play that hard.
Meanwhile, Beauvillier can’t buy a goal. He took cross-ice feed from Lafferty and ripped one that went off the shoulder of goalie Mackenzie Blackwood and then the crossbar. The Canucks winger hasn’t scored in nine games
When a goal is not a goal
Thatcher Demko had his moments before the Sharks would finally strike.
When the Canucks couldn’t clear the puck out of their zone along sideboards in the first period, Demko was forced to make a left-pad save with Givani Smith on his doorstep.
Demko then sprawled and got his left pad on a backhand drive to the net by Fabian Zetterlund before William Eklund got to the rebound for an apparent goal.
However, the Canucks successfully challenged goalie interference when Zetterlund went through crease to impede Demko’s ability to stop the foray.
OVERTIME — Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and founder and patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, participated in a ceremonial pre-game puck drop to promote the 2025 event in Whistler and Vancouver. He viewed the game with wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex
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