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Canucks earn first win over Sharks in 10 tries

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The third time this season -- and the 10th time overall -- was the charm for the Vancouver Canucks against the San Jose Sharks.

Receiving goals from four skaters, the Canucks ended a nine-game, head-to-head losing streak against the slumping Sharks with a 4-2 win Thursday.

"We've been pretty resilient all year long," Vancouver coach John Tortorella said. "Coming back, we just played."

In handing the hosts their first regulation loss on home ice in nine tries, the Canucks beat the Sharks for the first time since Jan. 21, 2012. Since then, San Jose earned five regular-season wins and a four-game sweep in a first-round playoff series.

San Jose saw its winless streak reach four games (0-3-1) as it managed only 24 shots on goal, well below its league-leading average of more than 38 per game.

"It's about work ethic and commitment, and we were clearly outworked," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "In the real world, you work eight hours, and in the hockey world, you work 60 minutes."

The Sharks played their worst 20 minutes at home this season in the second period, getting outshot 17-5 while watching a first-period, one-goal deficit double to two.

"I thought we had a great second period, probably one of our best periods of the year," winning goalie Robert Luongo said.

When Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa's shot from the right point caromed off the skate of right winger Zack Kassian and over Antti Niemi at 5:22 of the second, that signaled the end of the night for San Jose's starting goalie. Niemi allowed four goals on 13 shots.

"He was like the rest of the team. He hasn't been sharp, he has to be better," McLellan said.

"We've got to bail him out a little bit, we've got to play better in front of him," Sharks captain and center Joe Thornton added.

San Jose backup goalie Alex Stalock stopped the next 14 shots he faced throughout the period, and he finished with 21 saves while blanking the Canucks. Meanwhile, putting any rubber on Luongo was a challenge for the usually potent Sharks.

San Jose managed only eight shots by midgame and didn't crack double figures until center Andrew Desjardins fired short-handed at 15:16 of the second. In addition, the Sharks produced only two shots and couldn't convert on two power plays during the first 40 minutes.

"We had a lot of passengers," McLellan said.

Tortorella said, "I thought it was probably one of our better games with our sticks as far as stick on puck. That's a big team, they protect the puck well. So our sticks were on the ice and I thought we disrupted them that way. It's probably one of our better defensive games that way. I thought we competed really hard, so that's a good win for us."

The Sharks limited the Canucks to two goals total in a pair of early-season 4-1 wins, but it took Vancouver only one period Tuesday to eclipse that total. The visitors took advantage of sloppy defensive-zone play by the hosts to lead 3-2 at the first intermission.

"Three goals in a period is a game's worth," McLellan said.

Vancouver rallied from Thornton's crazy bank-off-the-end-boards goal that struck Luongo and trickled over the goal line 77 seconds after the opening faceoff, as the Canucks scored twice before mid-period.

"Quite comical the way the game started, but like we've been doing all year, we answered right back," Luongo said.

Center Brad Richardson scored in close on a turnaround shot at 4:28 following a San Jose turnover, and center Mike Santorelli slipped behind Thornton to knock a rebound past Niemi at 9:25.

"We were a little worried it could be one of those nights after that strange first one," Vancouver left winger Chris Higgins said. "When they get momentum, they're a pretty tough team to stop. But that was a big goal by (Richardson) there to get us back in the game a little bit."

San Jose tied it when left winger Mike Brown punched home a feed from left winger James Sheppard as the pair of fourth-liners got behind Vancouver defensemen Ryan Stanton and Bieksa.

The Canucks closed the wild period with a go-ahead goal at 18:55 as Higgins roofed a shot after San Jose defenseman Jason Demers turned the puck over and collided with partner Scott Hannan trying to recover.

"We need all the points we can get," Brown said. "It's hard to get on top and harder to stay there. These points slipping away are going to bite you in the end."

NOTES: Luongo finished with 22 saves. ... Canucks C Henrik Sedin saw his 12-game points streak end. ... RW Tommy Wingels is the latest forward to fill in on the C Joe Thornton line as San Jose searches for a consistent performer while RW Brent Burns nurses an injury. With a career-best, five-game point streak after recording an assist Thursday, Wingels is only one point shy of his career-high 13. Rookie RW Freddie Hamilton, since assigned to the minors, RW James Sheppard and RW Tyler Kennedy have all had turns lining up alongside Thornton and rookie LW Tomas Hertl. ... Both teams are fighting the injury bug. San Jose was without RW Raffi Torres (ACL surgery) and RW Adam Burish (back surgery) and Burns, while Vancouver was missing LW David Booth (lower body), C Jordan Schroeder (ankle), RW Dale Weise (lower body) and RW Jannik Hansen (upper body). D Yannik Weber and D Andrew Alberts were healthy scratches for the Canucks. LW John McCarthy and D Matt Irwin did not dress for the Sharks. ... Vancouver caps a four-game trip with games in Los Angeles against the Kings (Saturday) and Anaheim against the Ducks (Sunday). ... San Jose embarks on a season-long five-game trip, which starts Sunday in Winnipeg against the Jets.
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