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Cloud Nine: San Jose Sharks down Canucks for ninth straight win over Vancouver

Friday, 10.11.2013 / 12:45 AM The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - Antti Niemi made 25 saves and Matt Pelech's first NHL goal stood up as the winner Thursday as the San Jose Sharks stayed perfect on the young season by downing the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 for a ninth straight victory over their Pacific Division rivals.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns, into an empty net, also scored for the Sharks (4-0-0), who beat the Canucks 4-1 in both teams' season opener after sweeping Vancouver four straight in the first round of last year's playoffs. Joe Thornton and Logan Couture added two assists.

San Jose, which also won all three meetings during the 2013 regular season, has not lost to the Canucks since Jan. 21, 2012.

Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, who became the talk of the NHL after scoring four times in Tuesday's 9-2 win over the New York Rangers, was held pointless but was still noticeable as part of a dominant San Jose first line that includes Thornton and Burns.

Mike Santorelli replied for the Canucks (3-2-0), who got 25 saves from Roberto Luongo.

San Jose led 3-1 after 40 minutes and had a good chance to extend the lead five minutes into the third, but Luongo kept Vancouver in it with a breakaway stop on Hertl.

The Canucks showed little life until midway through the period, when their new puck-pressure style started to gain them a bit of time in the Sharks zone, but they rarely threatened Niemi's crease.

Vancouver pulled Luongo with 3:08 to go in the period, but Burns scored into an empty net with 2:19 to play.

Down 2-0 after the first period after San Jose goals from Vlasic and Pelech, Vancouver had some pushback in the second. Canucks captain Henrik Sedin was stopped by Niemi on a wraparound chance, and moments later the Sharks goaltender made a glove save off Daniel Sedin.

Santorelli, with his fourth goal in three games, got the Canucks on the board at 10:20 when he redirected a shot-pass from Vancouver defenceman Ryan Stanton in the high slot past a helpless Niemi.

The excitement inside Rogers Arena was short-lived, however, as San Jose restored its two-goal lead just 1:35 later when Marleau beat Luongo with a one-timer from the faceoff dot off a setup from Tyler Kennedy and Couture.

Kennedy had a chance to stretch the lead to 4-1 later in the period on the power play, but saw his shot ring off the crossbar.

Canucks defenceman Alexander Edler popped Hertl's helmet off as he was reaching for the puck late in the second period, but the 19-year-old didn't seem any worse for wear.

Vlasic opened the scoring at 12:16 of the first period by finishing off a nice passing play. The San Jose defenceman took a feed from Burns off the rush in the high slot and snapped a shot blocker side on Luongo.

Niemi came up big on a Vancouver power play later in the first, with big stops on both Edler and Jason Garrison.

Luongo then stopped Burns on another good chance before Pelech doubled the Sharks' lead with 58 second. The 26-year-old nephew of Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis, playing in just his ninth NHL game, chipped a pass from behind the Canucks' net up into the top corner past Luongo.

Earlier in the period, the Sharks hemmed the Canucks in their own zone for two full shifts, forcing Vancouver head coach John Tortorella into using his timeout less than five minutes into the game.

Notes: The teams play twice more this season, Nov. 7 in San Jose and Nov. 14 in Vancouver. ... Santorelli, who scored the winner in the Canucks' 3-2 overtime victory on Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils, wasn't credited with the goal Wednesday. The Burnaby, B.C., native is the first Vancouver player to record consecutive OT winners in franchise history. ... The Canucks host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday before heading out on a season-high seven-game road trip. San Jose is home to the Ottawa Senators the same night. ... Canucks right-winger Zack Kassian will be eligible to return to the lineup on Saturday after serving his eight-game suspension (three pre-season, five regular) after breaking the jaw of Edmonton Oilers centre Sam Gagner with a high stick.

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