Sharks 4 Canucks 2
VANCOUVER — Manny Malhotra’s third-period goal held up as the winner as the San Jose Sharks skated to a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night at GM Place.
Frazer McLaren, Dan Boyle and Jamie McGinn also scored for San Jose, which ended its mini two-game Canadian road trip with a 2-0 record and improved to a league best 18-6-4.
Kyle Wellwood and Jannik Hansen, with seven seconds left to play, replied for Vancouver (14-12-0), which ended its five-game home stand with a 3-2 record.
The high-octane Sharks, led by the dream trio of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau, were simply too much for a tired Canucks bunch. Vancouver played the night before, beating Edmonton 7-3, while San Jose had an extra day’s rest following Friday’s 5-4 shootout victory over those same Oilers.
Following a see-saw first period that saw the Canucks hold a slight edge in play, the bigger, stronger and more skilled Sharks took over.
San Jose was awarded the first three power-play opportunities of the middle period, and converted on the second one when Boyle snuck in from the point and converted a Thornton rebound to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead.
The assist was Thornton’s league-leading 30th of the season (Brad Richards of Dallas is next with 25). It also extended his points streak to eight games (3-12-15).
The Sharks came at the Canucks in waves in the second frame, outshooting the home team 15-4 thanks to a relentless forecheck and some untimely Vancouver turnovers.
The Canucks regrouped in the third period, spending the majority of the frame in San Jose territory, but failed to generate many chances on goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
Their best chance to tie the game came with 7:15 remaining, when the puck hit Ryan Kesler’s skate and came perilously close to going in before Nabokov booted it away with his left skate.
Malhotra put the game away with 2:35 remaining, taking a breakaway feed from Ryan Clowe and beating netminder Roberto Luongo through the legs with a backhand deke to make it 3-1.
McGinn added insult to injury 13 seconds later, whipping in a backhander after a Willie Mitchell turnover.
Hansen made the score respectable in the dying seconds, tipping in a Wellwood feed.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period.
Wellwood opened scoring 1:59 into the game, electing to shoot on a 2-on-1 and beating Nabokov stick side. Wellwood, who went goal-less in his first 19 games, now has two goals in his past three games, although one of those goals was into an empty net.
Enforcer McLaren, with his first NHL goal in 10 games with the Sharks, knotted the score at 12:18 after some sloppy play from Vancouver defencemen Mathieu Schneider and Christian Ehrhoff, who each turned the puck over. Pavelski took advantage, feeding a wide open McLaren in front of the net, who tipped the puck past a helpless Luongo.
NOTES: Rugged Canucks forward Rick Rypien missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury. Darcy Hordichuk took his place once again. … Eighteen of San Jose’s first 28 games have been on the road. They lead the league with 24 points away from home (11-5-2). … The Sharks were boosted by the return of captain Rob Blake, who missed 11 games with an upper-body injury, and winger Devin Setoguchi, who was absent from five contests with a leg injury. … Vancouver’s power play, ranked second in the NHL heading in, went 0-4 with no shots on goal.