The San Jose Sharks finally solved the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.
Michael Handzus scored the shootout winner as the Sharks earned a 3-2 victory against the Canucks at Rogers Arena.
Handzus, the only shooter to score, faked twice and beat Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo on the stick side. The Sharks (20-11-4) won for the first time against Vancouver (24-13-3) in three tries this season. The Canucks also beat the Sharks in five games in last season's Western Conference Final.
"I just go in and look where (Luongo) is standing and then just shoot it or fake it," Handzus said. "Pretty simple. It went in for me."
"I wasn't able to read it properly off the stick and it was able to find the corner there," said the Canucks' goaltender after a 33-save effort.
Canucks forward Ryan Kesler hit the post earlier in the shootout, while Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis saw his sharp-angled shot hit the far post in overtime.
Torrey Mitchell almost won it for the Sharks in regulation when he took Jamie McGinn's pass in the slot and beat Luongo just after the horn sounded.
Jannik Hansen and Cody Hodgson scored for the Canucks, while Benn Ferriero and Patrick Marleau gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead midway through the game.
Hansen got the only goal of the first period on a 3-on-1 break.
He almost mishandled Hodgson's return pass before firing a low shot under sliding defenseman Jason Demers and past goaltender Antti Niemi from the left faceoff circle.
The goal was Hansen's career-high 12th of the season and ended a six-game drought.
The Sharks pushed back, outshooting Vancouver 17-7 in the second period and tied the game early in the middle frame after killing a high-sticking penalty to Demers.
Luongo got a pad on a Ryane Clowe shot, but Ferriero backhanded the rebound over the Canuck netminder.
"We always have tough games against them," Hodgson said. "It's always within a goal. We knew that coming in what kind of game we were going to play. We just would have liked to be on the other end of it."
San Jose almost took the lead on a subsequent power play when Marleau and Joe Thornton found themselves alone in front of Luongo.
Marleau flipped the puck across the goalmouth but Luongo was quick enough to foil Thornton.
Marleau, playing his 201st consecutive game, then made it 2-1 at even strength by taking advantage of another Canuck coverage breakdown.
He scored his 14th goal and third in six games by backhanding a rebound behind Luongo after he stretched out his right pad to stop a Justin Braun shot from the side boards.
Both goalies stood out. Niemi preserved the lead entering the final period by getting an arm on a Hodgson shot when the Canucks center created a turnover at the Shark blue line.
"Our execution may be a tad off and when you're a tad off, with the quality of goaltending and quality of penalty killing in this League it's challenging," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
Niemi then sprawled to deny a Daniel Sedin break-in in the first minute of the third period.
But he couldn't hold off Vancouver when the NHL's top power play went to work for the sixth time in the game. Hodgson was alone in the slot for a quick release of Hamhuis's pass to tie the game with 8:25 remaining in the third period.
A desperate Luongo tipped a Dan Boyle shot onto the top of his net late in the game while Niemi denied Kesler's drive from the left wing.
"We keep talking about how one play, whether it's early in the first (period) or late in the third," said Boyle. "One play could be the difference-maker and tonight we had to take it to a shootout to get a winner.
"It's a start. The West is so tight, every point counts so getting that extra point was big for us."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.