Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 at the Rogers Arena on Saturday night, completing a sweep of their Western Canadian road trip. Two goals came from Timo Meier, including the game-winner. Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc also scored three goals for the Sharks. Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell made 28 saves for the win.
Canucks’ goals came from Nikolay Goldobin, Alexander Edler and Bo Horvat. Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 25 saves in a losing effort.
Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer described Saturday’s game as a “huge, gutsy performance. You know, when you have the deck stacked, end of a road trip, we lost two men early, down two guys. You know, we were up and then kind of let them back in the game and still found a way to rebound. I thought it was a huge character…gutsy, all those adjectives.”
The game added some injuries to the road trip’s casualty list.
First, Melker Karlsson started the game with Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane, but left the ice in the first four minutes, limping after blocking a shot from Alexander Edler. Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game about five minutes into the second period, after taking a deflected slap shot in the neck or face area. Neither player returned to the game, and the team had no updates in postgame.
Joonas Donskoi missed his second game since being injured in Edmonton. Joakim Ryan also missed Saturday’s game with an upper body injury.
Vancouver’s Nikolay Goldobin opened the scoring with a power play goal at 10:48. Goldobin’s quick shot around a lot of moving traffic beat Dell on on the right side. Assists went to Derrick Pouliot and Reid Boucher.
San Jose’s Kevin Labanc tied it up at 14:58, also with a power play goal. Pavelski scooped up a skittering rebound created by a Logan Couture shot, then tapped it over to Labanc for a close-in shot.
Couture added to the lead just over a minute later. Tomas Hertl carried the puck over the blue line and sent an ungainly-looking pass in Couture’s direction. Couture was still fighting his way toward the net. The puck reached him just as he started to lose his balance but his backhand shot went home. Assists went to Hertl and Mikkel Boedker.
Meier gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead less than two minutes into the second period. Right off an offensive zone faceoff, Brenden Dillon took a shot from the blue line and Meier tipped it in from the hashmarks.
Bo Horvat trimmed the Sharks lead at 5:23 with another Vancouver power play goal. Sam Gagner looked like he would take the shot, but instead passed the puck to Horvat, who was right on the doorstep. Assists went to Gagner and Alexander Edler.
Edler tied the game up with yet another power play goal. A Meier penalty was about to expire when Paul Martin went to the box for high sticking. The 16 second five-on-three was killed off by Braun, Tierney and Dillon, but with 34 seconds left in the second penalty, Edler’s slap shot found its way by Dell. Assists went to Gagner and Daniel Sedin.
The tie held until 8:07 of the third, when Meier took a great shot from above the faceoff dot and beat Markstrom on the right side. Assists went to Labanc and Braun.
Hertl put the nail in the coffin with an empty-net goal at 19:35. He carried it all the way from the Sharks’ net to the Vancouver zone, avoiding some defenders on the way before taking the shot.
The win puts San Jose five points ahead of Los Angeles and Anaheim, as well as the two current wild card teams, Dallas and Colorado. They still trail the Pacific Division’s first place Las Vegas by six points.
Paul Martin played his first NHL game in four months. Despite taking a penalty, he seems to be ready to step in. Tim Heed is another possibility to fill in on the blue line, playing currently with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda.
The Sharks next play on Tuesday against the visiting New Jersey Devils, who are on a bit of a tear right now. They have won three in a row against Western Conference teams, including that noteworthy 8-3 win over Las Vegas. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT.