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Power-play goal in OT pushes Sharks past Canucks

The SportsXchange

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The San Jose Sharks keep finding ways to earn points.

They have only one regulation win in their past seven games, but they collected at least a point in all but one of those contests after a comeback, 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

A goal from Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl with 65 seconds to go in regulation forced overtime, and defenseman Dan Boyle's power-play blast at 2:38 ended things.

The puck bounced right out of the net on the winning goal and play continued for a few moments before the goal was ruled valid.

"I was very positive it hit the camera (at the back of the net)," Boyle said. "I would have been shocked if it was waved off.

"Those are a big two points."

The Canucks were the team mostly in control for the first 58:55.

Their power play, ranked third-worst in the NHL -- 9.7 percent entering the game -- put them on the board when defenseman Kevin Bieksa's point blast beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi at 13:40 of the second period with left winger Daniel Sedin providing a screen in front.

It was the Canucks' first power-play goal in four games and eight tries.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver penalty kill kept the Sharks' power play at bay, killing three in regulation to run the Canucks' string to 26 consecutive kills spanning 24 periods.

However, with Canucks center Henrik Sedin in the penalty box for hooking in OT, the Sharks were too much.

"Four-on-three, there's more room out there (for the power play to operate)," Bieksa said. "They have a good power play, they're smart, they're all on the same page."

The Sharks, who bolted out of the gate with a 10-1-1 record to start the season, are 2-1-4 in their past seven games.

No one in the San Jose dressing room is panicking.

"We have a good team, we're not worried," Joe Thornton said. "We have points in all but one of those games. Would you take that? I will."

Thornton actually fanned on a shot on Hertl's tying goal -- he said he was tripped -- and the puck went directly to an unchecked Hertl at the side of the net.

Canucks coach John Tortorella called the loss a "kick in the teeth."

"I'm going to look at the big picture," he said. "We played a really good game against a good hockey club, that's what I'm going to take away from it."

Henrik Sedin and Sharks center Joe Thornton each had an assist and are tied atop the NHL assist leaderboard with 18 each.

For two teams that have built somewhat of a rivalry, the opening 30 minutes were tepid.

The best save by either goaltender was by Niemi, who got in front of a shot redirected by his own defenseman, Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

The shots were 8-8 after the first frame, unusual since the Sharks came into Rogers Arena leading the league in shots taken with an average of 37.1 per game. Four times this season, the Sharks recorded 50 or more shots on the opposition goaltender.

The shots wound up 35-30 in Vancouver's favor Thursday.

Niemi finished with 34 saves. Goalie Roberto Luongo stopped 28 shots for the Canucks (11-7-3).

Under the NHL's revised structure, the Sharks and Canucks are now direct rivals for Pacific Division playoff spots. However, Thursday's game marked the last time the two teams will meet this season -- they've met four times already, and they won't play again unless it's in the postseason.

"It's weird the way it works," Thornton said. "It's too bad, they're good games, exciting games.

"I think both teams enjoy playing against each other."

NOTES: Sharks C Joe Thornton is 15-38-52 in 45 games as a Shark against the Canucks. ... Until the Canucks won 4-2 at San Jose on Nov. 7, the Sharks defeated Vancouver nine consecutive times, including the playoffs. ... Canucks C Henrik Sedin ended a three-game streak without a point. Prior to that, he registered at least a point in 12 straight games (3-11-14). ... Canucks RW Ryan Kesler entered the game with 11 points in his previous 11 games (6-5-11), but he was held off the score sheet Thursday.
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