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Sharks blown out by Vancouver Canucks in listless defensive performance

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes skated between two Sharks players and sent a pass to the slot that grazed off Brock Boeser’s stick and just past the far post.

Hughes then skated around the Sharks’ net to grab his own rebound, and went mostly untouched around Noah Gregor, and then Nico Sturm, inside the Sharks’ zone. Hughes at that point had a clear path to the Sharks’ net before he fired a shot over goalie James Reimer’s right shoulder for his first goal of the season.

It was a nifty second-period goal by Hughes, one that gave his team a three-goal lead. But it was also indicative of how much defensive intensity the Sharks brought to the table Tuesday in their 6-2 loss to the Canucks at Rogers Arena.

“When you go play Quinn Hughes, you better go there with an attitude to him slow down,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “When we closed on him, we were just way too passive, and then our strong side winger didn’t hold the line, which allowed (Hughes) to kind of walk to the middle of the rink.

“It was just blown coverage. It was just sloppy D-zone coverage. It’s something we just can’t have happen at that point in the game, or really at any point.”

Just five days after an impressive 5-2 win over the Wild, the Sharks allowed two goals in the first, second and third periods in what became their eighth straight loss to the Canucks dating back to the 2019-2020 season.

The Sharks allowed even-strength goals to Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, Ilya Mikheyev, and Hughes in the opening 40 minutes as the Canucks took a 4-1 lead on just 15 shots by the 6:16 mark of the second period.

Horvat added a second goal in the third period and had a four-point night as the Canucks beat the Sharks for the sixth straight time dating back to last season. Reimer made 19 saves on 25 shots.

The Sharks have now allowed 16 goals in three meetings with the Canucks this season, but San Jose’s problems haven’t been limited to one opponent.

Through turnovers, defensive miscues, and sometimes spotty goaltending, the Sharks (11-19-6) have now allowed five goals or more in six of their last 10 games, and 95 goals during 5-on-5 play this season.

“We gave them some free goals,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said. “That’s three times we played these guys. Obviously, they’ve got a lot of skill but to give them (that many goals) isn’t a recipe for success.

“Some free ones, some gift goals around our net. Obviously a couple of goals late in the game where we’re trying to create some offense. I thought we had some good offensive zone shifts, it’s just defensively where we weren’t strong enough in our own end.”

Timo Meier scored two goals for the Sharks and now has 300 points in 430 games for his NHL career.

Quinn was hoping his team could bottle some of that execution and compete level they showed against the Wild after a few days away. But the Sharks fell behind by two goals after the first 16 minutes and never totally recovered in what became their fourth loss in five games.

Vancouver’s first goal came after a rush as Mario Ferraro blocked an Ilya Mikheyev shot, but the loose puck was accidentally kicked by Tomas Hertl right to Horvat, who backhanded it past Reimer from the side of the net at the 4:26 mark for his 25th goal of the season.

Pettersson made it 2-0 at the 16:03 mark. Former Sharks forward Lane Pederson redirected a Luke Schenn shot on net, then got another shot away – without getting as much as breathed on by a Sharks defender – that Reimer saved.

Pettersson then swooped in a tapped the loose puck past Reimer for his 16th of the season.

Meier scored his 19th of the season as the Sharks converted their second power play opportunity.

After Logan Couture won a faceoff in the Canucks’ zone, Erik Karlsson found Meier at the side of the net with a pass beside the net, as he redirected the puck past Vancouver goalie Spencer Martin.