|VAN||0||0||1||(0 - 0)||1|
|SJS||2||0||1||(0 - 0)||3|
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- While Todd Bertuzzi took out his frustration on water bottles, the San Jose Sharks calmly increased the NHL's largest division lead.
Alex Korolyuk had a goal and an assist, and Evgeni Nabokov made 34 saves in the Sharks' 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night in a meeting of division leaders.
Alyn McCauley and Jonathan Cheechoo also scored for the surprising Sharks, who moved seven points ahead of Los Angeles in the Pacific Division. San Jose, widely thought to be in a rebuilding season, got another win with another fast start and another fine goaltending performance.
"Your offense will improve when you believe your goalie is unbeatable," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "You'll take more chances up the ice, and you'll be rewarded. ... We played really aggressive and attacking hockey, and Nabby was part of the reason."
NHL scoring leader Markus Naslund got the only goal for the Canucks, whose franchise-record eight-game road winning streak was snapped.
The Canucks' frustration with their poor start and Nabokov's brilliance showed when Bertuzzi got a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct midway through a Vancouver power play in the second period. Bertuzzi, a starter in next month's All-Star game, used his stick to knock down water bottles and a towel in the penalty box.
"It just basically comes down to scoring goals, and we're not getting enough goals," said Bertuzzi, who hasn't scored a goal in eight games. "We can't rely on Markus every night. I can only be patient for so long. I'm getting very frustrated."
Nabokov was sharp throughout, but he made a series of amazing saves in the second period, stopping four straight shots by Henrik Sedin with his extended left pad while sprawled on the ice.
"It's unbelievable," Sedin said. "I had three shots in a row, and then the last chance went underneath him. Unbelievable."
Naslund has 53 points in 45 games, but his teammates were mostly outclassed by the Sharks' faster, smarter play. Dan Cloutier made 27 saves for Vancouver, which hadn't lost on the road since Dec. 17 at Dallas.
San Jose has won nine of its last 12 meetings with the Canucks.
The Sharks had another of the impressive starts that are becoming their trademark. They pounded Cloutier with 10 shots in the first 10 minutes before the Canucks got their first shot, and San Jose was rewarded when Korolyuk sneaked behind the net and scored an unimpeded wraparound goal on his 28th birthday.
Less than a minute later, Vancouver defensemen Marek Malik and Ed Jovanovski inexplicably allowed a loose puck to roll from the boards into the slot, where Cheechoo beat Cloutier with a one-timer for his career-best 13th goal.
"We've just got back to the way we'd been playing earlier in the season with our fast starts," Cheechoo said. "We put a lot of pressure on them from the start. That's the way we can do it every night."
The Sharks went up 3-0 early in the third period when Cloutier was caught out near the blue line while foolishly playing the puck. McCauley scored from an awkward angle near the boards.
But Nabokov lost his shutout 19 seconds later when Naslund scored his 25th goal of the season on a rebound of Jason King's shot.
"We face everybody pretty well the same," McCauley said. "I think that allows us to execute our plays and do the things that we want. They are a talented club over there. Maybe that just brings out the best in us and we're ready, knowing that these guys can bring a lot of offense and score goals in bunches."
The Sharks played without second-leading scorer Marco Sturm, who injured his chest late in Tuesday night's 3-0 loss to Dallas. Sturm hasn't skated since, but he will be re-evaluated before Saturday night's game at Colorado.
|Alexander Korolyuk Wrap-around - ASST: Alyn McCauley , Mike Rathje|
1 - 0 SJS
|Jonathan Cheechoo Slapshot - ASST: Mike Ricci , Scott Thornton|
2 - 0 SJS
|Alyn McCauley Wrist shot - ASST: Nisse Ekman , Alexander Korolyuk|
3 - 0 SJS
|Markus Naslund Backhand shot - ASST: Jason King , Brandon Reid|
3 - 1 SJS
|Ed Jovanovski Roughing|
|Rob Davison Hi-sticking|
|Jarkko Ruutu Roughing|
|Niko Dimitrakos Holding against Tyler Bouck|
|Bryan Allen Holding against Mike Ricci|
|Vincent Damphousse Tripping against Henrik Sedin|
|Vincent Damphousse Holding stick - Obstruction against Brendan Morrison|
|Todd Bertuzzi Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Mike Ricci Tripping against Ed Jovanovski|
|Scott Hannan Delay of game against Tyler Bouck|