Canucks get rare victory vs. banged-up Sharks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks went into Friday night's game against San Jose focused on shutting down the Sharks' top scorers.
Offense from all four of their lines was a nice by-product.
Raffi Torres and Mikael Samuelsson scored 1:48 apart early in the second period, and Samuelsson added another goal in the third as the Canucks took advantage of several mistakes during a 6-1 victory over the struggling Sharks.
"That's that happens when you play good defensively," captain Henrik Sedin said. "If you can play like this for 60 minutes, teams are going to make mistakes, and sooner or later you are going to get chances like we did."
Jeff Tambellini opened the scoring, Alex Burrows and Keith Ballard scored late in the third, and Roberto Luongo made 32 saves to help the Canucks beat San Jose for just the third time in 13 games and four seasons.
"Any time you get a line of [Joe] Thornton, [Patrick] Marleau and [Dany] Heatley, you're talking about three premier players," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We did a good job of containing them as best we could, and we did a good job of creating the offense when the time was right."
Heatley scored and Thornton had an assist, but Marleau finished minus-4 as the Sharks failed to build on Wednesday's win over defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, instead losing for the fourth time in five games (1-2-2).
"Most of the goals came off our tape," coach Todd McLellan said. "When you are the first or second assist on most of their goals, you have no chance. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers."
Antti Niemi finished with 26 saves, and the Sharks finished with just 10 forwards. They lost Scott Nichol to an errant puck that hit him in the eye during the morning skate, and Devin Setoguchi left with an undisclosed injury after the first period, leaving them short for the final two periods.
McLellan wasn't blaming either for the loss.
"You can't pin it on [Niemi] by any means. You've got to look at the other 19 guys in front of him," McLellan said. "We were stubborn. We didn't want to stay to our game plan and get pucks behind them, so we turned it over a lot."
That sounded a lot like the Canucks during a recent four-game losing skid. But in the two wins that followed, Vancouver focused on its own end first and scored 10 even-strength goals the other way.
And the goals have come from all four lines. Tied after Tambellini and Heatley swapped goals in the first period, the game changed with quick goals from the third and fourth units in the second.
Torres, pointless in eight games and dropped to the fourth unit earlier in the game, took a cross-ice drop pass from Jannik Hansen off the rush and quickly fired a shot past Niemi's outstretched glove 2:36 into the second.
A couple of shifts later, Tanner Glass, who replaced Torres on the third line, blocked a shot in front of his net to start a rush the other way. Samuelsson faked a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle and then waited for Glass to get to the net and screen Niemi before snapping it past his blocker.
"We got away from it but are on the right track again," Samuelsson said. "I said it since I came here -- you win with all four lines. Look at other teams that win something, and it's the third and fourth lines that keep coming at you."
Samuelsson scored again 7 minutes into the third after San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle accidentally passed it to him in the slot.
"Obviously it's a great pass but not to the right guy," Samuelsson said.
Boyle said he thought Thornton was going to turn one way and went the other just as he passed. But he had no answer for the Sharks' inconsistency.
"I can't explain it," he said. "If I could, we wouldn't be in this situation."
Vancouver was 2-9-1 against San Jose the previous three seasons. ... McLellan said Nichol, who was hit under his left eye by a puck that deflected off Niemi and left the rink wearing a full eye patch, might be able to play in Edmonton on Saturday. But he had no update on Setoguchi. ... Vancouver D Kevin Bieksa was a late scratch with the flu, and replaced by Aaron Rome.
Regular Season Series
VAN leads 1-0
- Bill McCreary
- Tom Kowal
- Brad Lazarowich
- Vaughan Rody