The San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks can’t afford to come out of the gate slowly again.
Both teams will be looking to emerge from the Christmas break on a positive note when they meet on Tuesday night in Vancouver.
The Sharks lost their first five games in regulation to start this season and were 3-9-3 before finally stringing together consecutive wins.
The Canucks began the season 0-5-2 and were 4-9-3 by mid-November.
Vancouver has shown more improvement than San Jose as the season progressed, however, posting a 11-6-0 mark over the past six weeks.
Two of those wins came at San Jose, both in overtime.
“It’s been an interesting year for us, to say the least,” Canucks forward J.T. Miller said. “We don’t have any quit in us, which is a real positive thing, even though we have games where we have breakdowns and letdowns.”
The final games before the weekend break were emblematic of Vancouver’s recent resolve.
The Canucks rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit to defeat the visiting Seattle Kraken 6-5 in a shootout on Thursday before getting on a plane to face the rested Edmonton Oilers the following night.
Vancouver fell behind 2-0 in the first period at Edmonton before rallying for a 5-2 win.
It was the first time in team history the Canucks erased deficits of two or more goals to win on consecutive nights.
“That was one of our better games,” Miller said of the Oilers contest. “Just for the fact of getting in at 3 a.m. and having a quick turnaround against a team that’s ready and, obviously, very dangerous.”
Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau agreed that it was one of the better games Vancouver has played in a long stretch.
“When you do that, and you do it as a group of 20, and not of eight or 10 or 14, then you’re a hard team to beat,” he said.
The Sharks were just 5-9-3 over the six weeks, but they also went into the break on a positive note, ending a six-game winning streak by the Minnesota Wild with a 5-2 victory on Thursday.
“There was just a lot to like about our game,” San Jose coach David Quinn said. “We’ve talked throughout the first 34 games that we’ve had games like this, we’ve had stretches like this. It’s the consistency that we’ve got to try to bottle.”
One player who has remained consistent for the Sharks is defenseman Erik Karlsson, who had a goal and three assists against the Wild for his third four-point game of the season, tied for second in the NHL behind Connor McDavid of the Oilers (seven).
Karlsson will bring a nine-game point streak into the matchup with the Canucks (two goals, 12 assists).
He also leads NHL defensemen with 13 goals and 46 points this season.
“It’s really amazing to watch him when he’s on his game,” Quinn said. “He’s special. It’s not a mystery why he’s won two Norris Trophies, and I can see more Norris Trophies coming his way.”
Timo Meier also comes in hot after scoring a goal in each of the past four games for San Jose.
–Field Level Media