VANCOUVER -- The Canucks and Sharks are loaded with experienced offensive star power. A pair of All-Star bound youngsters, however, stole the spotlight Saturday.
San Jose forward Logan Couture scored twice only to be matched by Vancouver rookie Cody Hodgson, who scored his second of the game with 4:17 left to cap off a wild sequence of three goals in 92 seconds and give the Canucks a 4-3 afternoon win against the Sharks at Rogers Arena.
On a night when top line talent Daniel and Henrik Sedin were held off the scoresheet and Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton only had one power-play assist combined, Hodgson and Couture were named first and second star.
Hodgson was added to the rookie portion of next weekend's All Star festivities and has 7 goals and 7 assists in his last 16 games – all despite playing limited minutes on the third line and second power play unit.
"He's really developing into a great player," said Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 23 saves. "He seems like he's on the scoresheet every night."
Hodgson ended it after a wild third-period sequence that started with Ryan Kesler putting the Canucks ahead on a 2-on-1 against the flow of play with 5:49 left. Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle pinched down and knocked in his own rebound after a nice feed from Joe Pavelski behind the net 36 seconds later.
But Hodgson, who tied the game with 4:29 in the second period, put the Canucks ahead for good 56 seconds after that. His shot from the corner and well below the goal line that somehow went off Antti Niemi and in, giving him 13 goals and 29 points this season, fourth among rookies.
"It was actually a pass backdoor to Mason (Raymond)," said Hodgson of his first two-goal NHL game. "I probably should have got it up a little off the ice to get it to him better, but lucky bounce and it worked out OK."
For Hodgson, the best part was doing it with his family in town from Ontario and his grandfather watching his first game in Vancouver.
"I'm excited for every game, but it's special when I can look up and see him up there," said Hodgson, the 10th player selected at the 2008 NHL Draft. "Everybody wants to contribute and do well. It doesn't matter who gets the goals, we just want to play well and come out with a win. I'm feeling good and comfortable and playing with some good linemates, so that's a good combination."
Couture erased a 1-0 deficit when he scored shorthanded at 15:54 of the opening period. He then scored via the power play just 65 seconds into the second to give San Jose a 2-1 lead. He now has 20 goals this season.
"Fabulous," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said of Couture, who also made a kick save to take an empty net away from Henrik Sedin with the game still tied in the third. "It was interesting to see both Cody Hodgson and Logan Couture as young, dynamic players in the game. The Sedins and the Jumbos (Thornton) and Marleaus are still very dominant and they have a ton of skill and are fun to watch, but those two young guys stole the show tonight."
David Booth also scored as Vancouver snapped a two-game skid with one left on this four-game homestand. The difference was the start.
Outshot and outplayed badly the last two games -- both losses -- the Canucks came out firing in this afternoon battle of respective division leaders.
Booth put them up 1-0 just 66 second into the game, deflecting a hard Alex Edler point shot from the side of the net for his second goal in three games since returning from a sprained knee that kept him out six weeks.
But the Sharks, playing again without injured top-six forwards Ryane Clowe and Martin Havlat, stayed in it until Hodgson's attempted pass bounced off the stick of San Jose forward Michal Handzus and past Niemi.
"I didn't even see it, just saw puck coming from corner, think it was going to be in the middle of crease and never got there," Niemi, who made 26 saves, said of the final goal of a wild sequence. "You gotta be ready for anything, but that's the kind of roller coaster you're feeling. It (stinks) at the end."
Despite a lot of line juggling in the top-six, McLellan pointed out it was his third line, anchored by the veteran Handzus -- who was minus-3 -- on the ice for three Canucks goals. The coach wasn't happy with the winner, but also pointed out mistakes long before that as his team lost for a third time in four games after recording a point in 14 of the previous 15 (10-1-4).
"The frustrating thing is we are aware of the mistakes we're making and still making them," McLellan said. "A missed faceoff assignment (on Hodgson's first goal), a pinch we don't cover above (on Kesler's goal), and the goal from below the goal line is tough to swallow. Good teams make you pay for those errors. We didn't make many, but when we did, they put it in the net."
Alexandre Burrows hit the post on a power play early in the third, and a matinee that was tame at times finally started to resemble a rematch of last year's Western Conference Final after an unlikely but spirited scrap between Keith Ballard and Pavelski with 6.8 seconds left in the period.
But things really picked up after Kesler scored.
"You have to play your best when you're playing the best teams," said Kesler. "You have to play your best no matter what, but especially against those teams. We have a good rivalry against those guys."
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