SAN JOSE -- Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa slammed Sharks forwards Logan Couture and Joe Thornton on Monday, saying they have shown a "lack of integrity" in this first-round playoff series for what he perceives to be their embellishment of injuries to draw penalties.
"Those are two Canadian guys who are supposed to be playing the game with integrity," Bieksa said after the Canucks practiced at HP Pavilion. "Maybe our team has to do more of that."
The Canucks, a team with a reputation as the NHL's worst divers, have taken 21 minor penalties in losing the first three games of the series and need a win Tuesday at HP Pavilion to avoid elimination. Bieksa has six penalty minutes in the series.
"Couture has been snapping his head back. This isn't my opinion. The evidence is in the video," said Bieksa, recalling a specific incident when Henrik Sedin was called for high-sticking Couture. "Hank touches him off the faceoff, he does a full back arch and his glove goes flying off in the corner."
Couture had a one-word reaction to Bieksa's statement -- "Really?" -- before adding: "There's really not much to say. I'm not going to go to the media and do any talking. I'll do my talking on the ice."
Bieksa referred to Thornton as "another so-called Canadian ... He gets slashed, takes his glove off, shakes his hand. The ref takes a couple of seconds to look at that and make a call."
Thornton did offer a response.
"It's just talk," the Sharks captain said. "You can see in both video clips, they were probably both penalties. They're just going to talk like that now. At this point, you really don't even pay attention to things that are said like that. It's all part of the gamesmanship. You just try not to get sucked into a verbal altercation with them."
Does Thornton worry that Bieksa's charges might influence Game 4 officials?
"Refs are professionals," Thornton said. "They don't care what's being said in the media. They just go out there and do their jobs."
Bieksa, who hit Sharks forward Marty Havlat in the groin area with his stick in Game 1, indicated that the acting jobs were effective because "they have a really good power play, and they understand they're going to do some damage on the power play."
The Sharks have just 10 minor penalties in the series and have allowed one power play goal. The Canucks have allowed four power play goals, including three in Sunday's 5-2 loss.
"Alain is a tremendous coach," McLellan said. "Do I think Alain deserves that? By no means. He's an excellent coach and will coach for many years."
Vancouver, which lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round last season, has managed just five goals in the first three games.
McLellan said that if the Sharks were on the brink of elimination, his job status would likely be in question.
"It's just the way it goes," McLellan said.
Vigneault has coached the Canucks since the start of the 2006-07 season and has led the team to six Northwest Division titles in seven years, two President's Cup trophies and an appearance in the Stanley Cup final in 2011. He was named the NHL's coach of the year after the 2006-07 season.
Vigneault has been criticized for the team's offensive woes this season, as the Canucks are 19th in the league in goals per game (2.5) and 22nd in power play percentage (15.8). Last season, Vancouver was fifth in goals per game (2.94) and fourth in power play percentage (19.4).