Sharks work OT to get past Canucks
SAN JOSE, Calif. — After scoring three goals in his first four games, Kevin Labanc had no idea how long it would be before he scored again.
He finally snapped a 23-game goal-less streak with an overtime winner at 1:53 as the Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 at SAP Center on Thursday.
“It felt good, but it felt better winning the game,” Labanc said. “They came back on us. We were a little bit worried. It was nice to get the two points and better ourselves in the standings.”
Labanc scored his fourth of the season to cap his first career four-point game, including three assists. San Jose (18-11-4) improved to 4-1-2 in its last seven while the Canucks (15-17-4) lost for the seventh time in eight games.
“A point’s big, but we definitely feel we could’ve won that game,” said Canucks rookie Brock Boeser, who scored his 19th goal. “Obviously we need to clean up some special teams there.”
Playing again without the injured Logan Couture, the Sharks continued to click in the power play and found just enough support to allow backup goalie Aaron Dell to win his fifth straight start.
San Jose went 3-for-5 with the man-advantage to stretch its streak to seven games with at least one power-play strike. The Sharks are 12-for-33 in that span and have logged four games with multiple power plays.
“We went over the boards knowing we were going to score — that was the feeling we had,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “We started making quality plays. We’re not passing through as many guys, as many sticks. We’re winning a few more draws and a few more battles. A big thing, too, is I think we’re shooting the puck more.”
Joe Thornton showed off his shooting skills with a pair on the power play. His seven goals match last year’s output. It was Thornton’s 42nd multi-goal game, and he moved into 18th place on the all-time points list, with 1,416.
“He can shoot the puck as well, and you saw that tonight,” Pavelski said. “Those were a couple big goals for us. When we make those plays and he’s pulling the trigger, that’s really good.”
Vancouver tied the game early in the third period when Daniel Sedin scored his eighth goal of the season, at 2:09. His shot from the far edge of the right circle slipped through the pads of Dell, who finished with 36 saves.
The Sharks emerged from a wild second period with a 4-3 lead on the strength of their power play.
“I loved the way we played tonight minus our penalty killing,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said. “You score four goals on the road, you come back a couple of times — that’s the kind of game we want to play. If we play that way every night, we’re going to be fine.”
Timo Meier scored his fifth goal of the season, at 5:20 during a long cycle by the hosts on an even-strength shift. Defenseman Dylan DeMelo fed Meier after Labanc was patient to trigger the scoring sequence.
Following Thomas Vanek’s trip of Chris Tierney, it took Thornton only 22 seconds to convert with a bullet from the left dot over the shoulder of Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom, at 6:29.
The visitors rallied, however, with a pair of goals less than eight minutes apart to tie it. Jake Virtanen flew around Sharks rookie defenseman Tim Heed to score his fifth goal in close at 8:49, and rookie Brock Boeser notched his 19th with a backhand past Dell at 16:02.
San Jose went back on top during a 5-on-3 power play as Tomas Hertl scored his ninth of the season at 18:56 as the undisciplined Canucks took two minors within three seconds late in the period.
The Sharks and Canucks were tied 1-1 at the first intermission following a period that featured special teams and near misses.
A Vancouver rush caught the Sharks in an odd-man situation, and Brendan Gaunce benefitted when defenseman Erik Gudbranson’s shot tipped off his stick on the way past Dell for a 1-0 lead.
San Jose responded after Nic Dowd hooked Brent Burns at 11:40. Thornton scored just 11 seconds later, beating Markstrom with a wrist shot from the left circle.
“There’s a lot of guys injured,” Virtanen said. “Coming into this arena we’re playing against Thornton and Pavelski. They’ve been in the league for a long time, made a name for themselves and done a lot in their careers. They’re a good line to play against, and they were a good test for us.”
NOTES: San Jose C Logan Couture missed a second straight game because of a concussion sustained Dec. 15. There is no timetable for his return. ... Sharks C Joe Thornton passed Doug Gilmour for 18th place on the NHL career scoring list with his three-point game. ... Vancouver continues to play without D Christopher Tavev (groin), LW Sven Baertschi (jaw), C Bo Horvat (foot) and C Brandon Sutter (upper body). D Ben Hutton and RW Nikolay Goldobin were healthy scratches. ... Sharks D Paul Martin remains on a conditioning assignment with the San Jose Barracuda. RW Joel Ward was San Jose’s lone healthy scratch as C Barclay Goodrow (lower body) is still injured.