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Canucks on a roll

by Travis Britton / Vancouver Canucks

Canucks snap the Sharks four game winning streak in the first meeting since Kevin Bieksa sent them packing in game 5 of the West Final.

Vancouver has now won four straight games for the first time since taking the last two in the five-game conference final against San Jose in May and the first two in the Stanley Cup final against Boston.

Manny Malhotra, Henrik Sedin and Andrew Alberts scored for the Canucks and goaltender Cory Schneider was spectacular again in a 3-2 victory over the Sharks. His shutout streak ended at two, but he has allowed just three goals in those four wins.

Canucks are once again starting to look like the team that dominated the regular season a year ago. The catalyst for this turnaround is simple: Cory Schneider.

Schneider put in another brilliant performance, stopping 43 of a possible 45 shots on the night. He is now 4-0 in his last four starts and sports a goals against average of 0.75 and a save percentage of .975 in that current streak.

“We’ve played really good hockey in the last 4 or 5 games here and we are back to playing the way want to, especially on the road so it was a great road trip for us and hopefully we can get some more momentum going home for our home stand.”

Vancouver finished their 3-game road trip in style walking away with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks, earning them the maximum amount of points on this recent road swing.

Manny Malhotra playing in his 800th NHL game got things started in the first with his second tally in three games. Malhotra sent in what appeared to be a harmless looking centering pass from the side boards but got a fortuitous bounce off Douglas Murray’s skate, giving the Canucks a 1-0 lead.

Andrew Murray got the Sharks back to level ground late in the first period scoring his first of the season.

The high-energy first ended in a 1-1 tie that included a tussle featuring a rematch of a preseason bout that featured Aaron Volpatti one punching Brad Winchester. Tonight’s bout ended on even terms for the two combatants.

Canucks have been struggling this year in the second period, and the Sharks have been dominant. But tonight it was the Canucks that played the perfect middle frame.

Sedin and Alberts scored two goals in a span of 50 seconds in 2nd stanza to pace the Canucks for their best middle frame of the season.

Sedin scored at 10:17 on the Canucks’ first power play of the night. With Joe Thornton in the box for a vicious slash on Alex Burrows, Vancouver wasted little time showing why it has the number one power play in the league.

Less than a minute later, it was Alberts bulging the twine with a wrister from the point that seemed to have eyes, giving the Canucks a 3-1 lead. For Alberts it was his first goal in 49 games and he had this to say about being reminded of his long draught.

“I’d like to get more shots off and thanks for reminding me it’s been 50 games but just trying to get pucks to the net and get guys to crash the net and get a goal so I’ll take them how they come.”

The Sharks made it interesting when Marleau scored with 1:15 remaining and Niemi pulled for the extra attacker but that was as close as they would come.

The Canucks now return home for a four game home stand and hope to ride this recent wave of momentum called Schneider. When asked if this is the best stretch of hockey in his young career, he had this to say: “I think it has to be, yah know I’ve felt good a lot of times but to string a bunch consecutively in a row here it’s great and it’s a big boost for me and hopefully my teammates that it helps us get started and we continue playing this way for the rest of the year.”

Stat Attack:

-Canucks won for the first time in five tries on the back end of back-to-back games.

-Cory Schneider has stopped 117 of the last 120 shots he has faced.

-Vancouver has now scored the opening goal in 12 of their last 13 games.

-Mason Raymond took the pre-game skate for the first time this season. He hasn’t played since fracturing a vertebra during the Stanley Cup Final against Boston.

-Cory Schneider sports a sparkling 0.75 GAA and .975 save % in his last four starts, all victories.

- The Canucks are now a perfect 9-0 when getting a two-goal lead at any point in a game.

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