The Vancouver Canucks will try to avoid falling into an 0-2 series' hole on home ice when they host the San Jose Sharks in Friday's Western Conference quarterfinal clash at Rogers Arena.
The third-seeded Canucks played the opener of this best-of-seven series on Wednesday without No. 1 goaltender Cory Schneider and dropped a 3-1 decision against the visiting Sharks.
Roberto Luongo got the start in net instead and allowed all three goals on 28 shots, as the Northwest Division champions fell behind 1-0 in the series. With Schneider missing practice again on Thursday due to his undisclosed injury, Luongo also will get the start in Game 2.
Dan Boyle scored the game winner in the third period to lift the Sharks to the Game 1 triumph. Logan Couture added a goal and an assist, Patrick Marleau scored and Joe Pavelski notched two helpers for the sixth-seeded Sharks, who are in the playoffs for a ninth straight season, but are still after their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Antti Niemi made 29 saves for San Jose, which was defeated in five games in the opening round last season by St. Louis.
"We played a really compact D zone; we didn't give too much," said Niemi, who was the starting goalie for Chicago during its 2010 championship season.
Kevin Bieksa scored the lone goal of the game for the Canucks, who have claimed five straight Northwest Division titles, but have never won a Stanley Cup.
Vancouver is trying to avoid its second straight loss in the conference quarterfinals, as it fell to the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round last season.
Luongo was the No. 1 option in net for several Vancouver playoff runs, but the 27-year-old Schneider entered this season as the team's starting goaltender. The Canucks had tried to deal the veteran Luongo over the offseason and at this season's trade deadline, but never found a suitable offer.
However, the 34-year-old Luongo has seen action in 62 career playoff games and fell to 32-30 in the postseason after Wednesday's loss.
"We want to be a bit more solid on our forecheck and break the puck out cleaner, whether that exchange is with myself and a D-man or D-man with forwards," Luongo said after the Game 1 loss. "Communication is key, especially in situations like that and we just need to sharpen up in general, have that little extra edge and we're good to go."
The Sharks lost forward Martin Havlat to an undisclosed injury in Game 1 and he is questionable for Friday's second test. Havlat, who had a disappointing 18 points in 40 games this season, didn't return after leaving in the first period.
Despite a number of recent finishes near the top of the Western Conference, the Canucks and Sharks have met only once before in the postseason. That encounter did have a lot on the line as Vancouver knocked off San Jose in five games to advance to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
San Jose hopes it can take a 2-0 lead back to Northern California. Games 3 and 4 will take place at HP Pavilion, where the Sharks were 17-2-5 during the regular season compared to an 8-14-2 mark on the road.
The Sharks will host the next meeting of this series on Sunday and Game 4 is set for Tuesday.
The Canucks were 15-6-3 as the home team this season and 11-9-4 everywhere else.