The Canucks blew a 2-0 second-period lead but beat the Sharks 3-2 in overtime to win their fourth straight regular-season game at HP Pavilion. Andrew Ebbett, coming off a two-goal game against Edmonton, scored the game-winner at 3:23 of overtime Wednesday night, tipping in Kevin Bieksa's long blast from the high slot.
"It's a fun little rivalry," said Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo, who made 33 saves. "Whenever you play a team in the playoffs the year before, there's always a little something that carries over. Call it whatever you want, but these are fun games to play in."
Lately, the Canucks have been having most of the fun.
Vancouver has won nine of the past 11 games against the Sharks. The Canucks won three of four regular-season games last season, then beat the Sharks in five games in the Western Conference Final. Earlier this season, the Canucks, playing back-to-back games, beat the Sharks 3-2 at HP Pavilion as backup goalie Cory Schneider stopped 43 of 45 shots.
This time Luongo beat the Sharks in his sixth straight start, five of them wins, as the Canucks improved to 14-3-1 in their past 18 games. Luongo will get Thursday night off against Anaheim, with Schneider in goal, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.
The Canucks were booed loudly when they took the ice for pregame warmups, a sign of what was to come. On the flip side, there were more than a few fans wearing Canucks gear and cheering every Luongo save and Vancouver goal.
"I thought it was a heck of a game," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan, whose team has four days off before facing the Canucks again, this time at Rogers Arena.
"There was a lot of emotion. There was more emotion than any of the games we've played lately. It was playoff hockey in a playoff atmosphere. I don't expect any less from these two teams."
Ebbett typically isn't on the ice for overtime, but Vigneault said so many of his players were worn out after killing three penalties in the third period -- one that extended into overtime -- that he was looking for some fresh legs. Ebbett had missed six weeks with a fractured foot before returning to action Dec. 21. In his third game back, he scored two goals in a 5-3 win over the Oilers on Monday night. Now this.
"When things are going right, they are going right," Ebbett said. "Build on the momentum. I'm just happy being back with the team playing again."
The score was tied 2-2 after the second period, and the Sharks outshot the Canucks 16-4 in a wild but scoreless third period.
With 5:25 left to play in regulation, scrums broke out all over the ice after the Sharks' Jamie McGinn and Kesler drew matching minor penalties, McGinn for roughing and Kesler for unsportsmanlike conduct. At 15:29, Daniel Sedin drew a high-sticking penalty, and the Sharks went on their third power play of the night. The Canucks killed that one, but Bieksa went to the box with 1:37 left for high sticking McGinn. Vancouver killed that penalty, too.
"We took it to them the first little bit," Kesler said. 'We gave them a little momentum with the power plays, but we were resilient. We didn't get caught up in the whining and crying out there. We just stuck to our game plan."
The Canucks built a 1-0 lead in the first period on Daniel Sedin's goal at 11:12 then made it 2-0 2:58 into the second on Kesler's power-play goal. Kesler planted himself in front of the net and rammed in a rebound after Alexander Edler launched a shot at Antti Niemi from the left circle.
Just when it looked as if the Canucks were going to turn the game into a rout, the Sharks roared back to score twice in the period and knot the score 2-2 heading into the third period.
Couture cut the Canucks lead to 2-1 at 11:01 with his team-best 16th goal. When Henrik Sedin sent the puck toward the Sharks' net, Couture knifed in front to intercept and headed the other way. He passed the puck to Patrick Marleau, on his left, took a return feed and beat Luongo with a blast high to the stick side.
The Sharks killed a penalty and Niemi survived a 3-on-1 rush, stopping Daniel Sedin's shot. Then at 16:06, the Sharks went on their first power play of the night. With Edler in the box for slashing, Thornton needed just six seconds to score, beating Luongo with a shot from the right circle at 16:12.
"We killed some big penalties, maybe got some momentum off of that," Thornton said. "We were just aggressive, and they just kind of backed off."
Vigneault said both teams played "with real intensity" from the moment the puck dropped.
"From start to finish, it was a fast-paced, high-intensity, high-energy game there, and I think for both teams it's fun to be a part of. I guess it's a lot more fun when you win. For me, I really liked the way we played in the first two periods, even though they came back and tied it up.
"In the third period, we were tested and pushed by different calls on the ice, but we still managed to keep our composure and get the job done short-handed, and we were rewarded with a real nice goal. … We were trying to play whistle to whistle, and we were getting abused after the whistle. You're hoping that some stuff is going to get called. But even if it doesn't, you've got to play through it, and that's what our guys did and found a way to win it in OT."
Just seconds after the Sharks killed their first penalty of the game, Daniel Sedin scored on a wraparound at 11:12 of the first, giving Vancouver a 1-0 lead. He controlled the puck behind the net and jammed it past Niemi's right pad and stick, just inside the left post, before defenseman Dan Boyle could get back to help his goaltender. Henrik Sedin and Edler picked up assists on the goal.
The Canucks outshot the Sharks 9-8 in the first, and both teams had plenty of good chances to score. Midway through the period, Niemi stopped Mason Raymond's rocket from the left circle and covered Alexandre Burrows try from short range on the rebound. Later in the period Sharks winger Joe Pavelski had a breakaway, but Luongo made a spectacular glove save. Then it was Niemi's turn to stop Kesler's dangerous shot with just over 2 minutes left in the period.
Coming into the game, one of the biggest matchups pitted Vancouver's top-ranked power play (25 percent) against San Jose's 28th-ranked penalty kill (75.2). The Canucks had four power plays, but the Sharks killed three of them. San Jose, meanwhile, went 1-for-4 on the power play.
"The last couple power plays we had, the ice was what they call 'shooting ice,' Boyle said. "You have got to find a way to put the puck in the net, and we just didn't do that. The pucks were bouncing all over the place. We spent half the time breaking it in and then the other half fighting it. You have to shoot the puck and try to get an ugly goal, and we just didn't get the shot we needed."
Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with an injured wrist, replacing Colin White, who suffered a hand injury Monday night against Anaheim. Instead of rejoining Boyle as part of the top defensive pair, Murray skated with Justin Braun, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic remained with Boyle.
1 - 0 VAN
2 - 0 VAN
2 - 1 VAN
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 VAN