Sharks 4, Canucks 1

Ross McKeon, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE -- San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi saved almost everything Thursday night, even the Sharks' power play.
The goalie turned away all but one of Vancouver's 22 shots and San Jose opened the new season with a 4-1 win despite going 0-for-7 on the power play.
Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels scored with 78 seconds late in the third period to break open a one-goal game.
Marleau scored at 14:39 after Logan Couture forced a turnover from Vancouver's Chris Higgins and Wingels tapped home a rebound at 15:57 after Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo stopped Andrew Desjardins' breakaway.
The Sharks scored the only two goals in the middle period to wipe out a 1-0 deficit and take a 2-1 lead into the third period.
San Jose finally solved Luongo, who stopped the first 16 shots he faced in the game. Joe Thornton started the scoring sequence by poking the puck off of Canucks defenseman Jason Garrison at center to create a turnover.
Rookie Tomas Hertl fed Brent Burns, who streaked in along right wing and beat Luongo with a shot just inside the near post at 5:53. Burns' first goal of the season helped atone for a pair of bad first-period penalties, the first of which led to the visitors' goal.
Special teams dominated the middle portion of the period as the Sharks squandered a full two-minute 5-on-3, and a 5-on-4 minutes later before the teams traded abbreviated 12-second power plays.
The Sharks broke through late in the period when defenseman Justin Braun capped an extended cycle. His shot from just inside the blue line along the right boards beat a screened Luongo at 18:07. Sharks teammates Tyler Kennedy and Couture were buzzing in front of the Canucks' goal.
The Canucks escaped the first period with a 1-0 lead on the strength of a power-play goal despite getting outshot 16-7 in the opening 20 minutes.
The first of two frustration penalties taken by Burns -- a retaliatory slash against Higgins while players were changing -- cost San Jose. It took the Canucks just 35 seconds to convert as Garrison stepped into a Daniel Sedin feed to drill a one-timer past Niemi.
Luongo was splendid in the period, closing his 5-hole on Joe Pavelski's short-handed breakaway and he slid over to stop a Burns one-timer at even strength. Luongo denied Hertl's first career goal on a redirect in front and stoned Couture in close during the final 40 seconds.
NOTES: Vancouver C Henrik Sedin played in his 630th consecutive game to tie Andy Hebenton for sixth on the NHL's all-time list. ... San Jose D Brad Stuart did not dress for the opener after skating with teammates for the past week. Stuart, one of six Sharks to appear in all 48 games last season, missed all seven preseason games with a lower-body injury sustained during late-summer workouts. ... Vancouver is now 21-17-5 all-time in season openers and 6-6-1 on the road. San Jose is now 6-2-1 in season debuts since 2005-06. San Jose coach Todd McLellan is 5-1 in last six openers behind the Sharks' bench. ... Two San Jose rookies who made their NHL debuts Thursday -- Tomas Hertl, 19, and Matt Nieto, 20 -- are the first Sharks born after the franchise played its first game Oct. 4, 1991. ... D Yannick Weber, D Andrew Alberts and F Zack Kassian did not dress for Vancouver. San Jose's three scratches were injured skaters -- RW Martin Havlat, RW Adam Burish and Stuart.

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