San Jose Sharks fall in hard fought game to the Vancouver Canucks

Dec 23, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; San Jose Sharks defenseman Henry Thrun (3) stick
Dec 23, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; San Jose Sharks defenseman Henry Thrun (3) stick / Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

This was the best kind of game for the rebuild. It was a game that showed the team has fight and will not quit, but it ultimately means that the San Jose Sharks ensure they will be going into the Christmas break last place in the NHL. With just 21 points from their 34 games, the Sharks are truly enduring their season. Five straight losses have confirmed this for the teal outfit.

Vancouver started on the front foot by carrying the puck up the ice 94 seconds into the game. Elias Pettersson fired a pass towards Andrei Kuzmenko, but it got caught up in the skates of Mikael Granlund. He couldn't locate the puck before Kuzmenko walked onto the puck and fired it into the top corner of the net, giving the Canucks a 1-0 lead early in this one.

On the powerplay, the Canucks would work it briliantly. Quinn Hughes gave it back to Elias Pettersson at the point. Pettersson gave it over to the other point as J.T Miller walked onto it. Miller hit the stick of Kuzmenko in the slot who tipped it home, and the Russian had scored twice in the first seven minutes of the game. It felt at this point like it could have been a long night for the Sharks.

However, the Sharks then started to show some bite. Granlund carried the puck up the ice with Anthony Duclair beside him. As the enter the zone, Granlund gives the puck to the Duke, and carries on towards the net, tying up the defenseman in front of him. It allows Duclair the chance to fire it, and I cannot tell if it hit Granlund or not on the way through, but who cares because it was a Sharks goal and it cut the Canucks lead in half.

San Jose would tie the game up soon after William Eklund created a turnover and won the puck back to the point for a shot that was stopped. Tomas Hertl picked the rebound up and was able to just slide it under the pad of the Canucks netminder to tie the game up at two. When the Sharks are playing well, you will always find the Czech forward at the heart of it, and this was no exception as the team was able to use its best forward to get back into it.

In the second period, the Canucks would cash in as a Sharks powerplay was expiring. Teddy Bleuger walked in with Nils Aman and there was just not a lot of hope here. Mario Ferraro was back on the play, but Bleuger gets it between him and the netminder, and Aman just couldn't miss with his tap in. It restored the Canucks lead and the Sharks just couldn't get it going.

Vancouver would extend its lead, as a powerplay for the Canadian team was expiring. Ilya Mikheyev got the puck over to Conor Garland before Garland got it back to the point. Ian Cole walked onto a shot that Sam Lafferty tipped home and the Sharks were now down by two. They came back from being two down in the first, but they wouldn't tie the game up from this point onwards.

They would get the next goal in this game however. Mikael Granlund got the puck in behind the Canucks defense for Ferraro to skate onto. He then found a streaking Fabian Zetterlund all alone at the far post, and that was the Canucks lead cut in half. Eklund probably could have scored on this play too if the pass had been towards him rather than sneaking through to Eklund, so its a good sign of creation and getting in areas to score goals.

Vancouver would restore its two goal lead before the second intermission. Bleuger got it to Garland as the Canucks enter the zone. Garland carried towards the center of the ice, faking a shot to freeze Mackenzie Blackwood before dishing it over to Dakota Joshua. Joshua couldn't miss and the Canucks would go into the second intermission up 5-3.

In the third period, the Sharks would win an offensive zone faceoff and it would find its way back to Jan Rutta at the point. He would take it to the icing line before firing it across. A deflection from Tomas Hertl was stopped comfortably, but the rebound fell to Jacob MacDonald. He was able to get the puck home for the Sharks fourth goal of the night.

Vancouver would get it back when J.T Miller won the puck back to point. The shot from the point was deflected by Pius Suter and the Canucks would take a 6-4 lead. San Jose would be asking a lot of themselves to get back into this one from here, and it turned out they wouldn't be able to. There wasn't any quit, but this roster just doesn't have the firepower to have comebacks like that consistently.

Vancouver would hit the empty net as Quinn Hughes would loft it over everyone from his own side blueline. It would drop right under the bar and the Sharks would fall 7-4 to the Canucks, ensuring that the teams would go into the Christmas break as the top and bottom teams in the NHL standings. It wasn't a bad Sharks perfromance, and there were positives to take from it, but it does help the team get closer to Macklin Celebrini.