There's a good possibility the San Jose Sharks
and Vancouver Canucks
could meet again in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If they do, they'll have a hard time playing any better that they did Thursday night.
The division leaders matched each other goal-for-goal though 65 minutes before Vancouver's Alex Burrows before the lone goal in the shootout to give the Canucks a 5-4 victory -- their fourth in as many games on their current road trip and third in four meetings with the Sharks this season.
Backup goaltender Cory Schneider made 44 saves as the Canucks improved their League-leading total to 97 points, seven more than Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia and 11 ahead of Detroit for the top spot in the West.
"We seem to be winning all sorts of ways and that's a good sign," said Schneider, who played in place of Roberto Luongo. "They really just kept coming and coming in the third period. We sort of held the fort and Burrows had the big goal in the shootout to get the win."
The Pacific Division-leading Sharks have 85 points, one behind Detroit for second in the West.
"I'm happy with the effort, disappointed with the result," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said his goalie made the difference.
"Tonight you could say they were the better team on the ice," Vigneault said. "But at the end of the night, our goaltender kept us in the game and we found a way to win."
San Jose overcame deficits of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3, finally forcing overtime when Ryane Clowe scored his second goal of the game by swatting an airborne pass by Joe Thornton past Cory Schneider with 20.3 seconds left in regulation.
"It was a heck of a play by Heater to Jumbo to one-touch it over to me," Clowe said. "I just got it over his pad."
That goal capped a wild ending that saw San Jose's Torrey Mitchell tie the game 3-3 with 2:13 left with a spectacular goal in which he beat four players before wristing a shot past Schneider, and Daniel Sedin score a power-play goal just 24 seconds later to put the Canucks back in front.
But Burrows was called for holding the stick of Joe Thornton with 35 seconds left, and with Antti Niemi on the bench for an extra attacker to give the Sharks a 6-on-4 skating advantage, Clowe set up in front and scored to force overtime.
"The fact that we were able to come back three times against a team of that caliber; we have to be happy with that," McLellan said. "I thought we got real good efforts as the game went on."
Schneider got the game to the shootout by making nine saves in OT; the Canucks weren't credited with a shot on goal but had Dan Hamhuis hit the left post with Niemi beaten. In the tiebreaker, Schneider denied Clowe, Kyle Wellwood and Joe Pavelski in the shootout; Burrows beat Niemi in the second round with a backhander under the crossbar for the winner.
"Obviously it's nice, especially when you have been in the box when you are one up in the last minute of the game," Burrows said. "It's not a spot you want to be in. The coach believed in me so I could get it done and redeem myself."
The first period belonged to the Canucks, who got goals from Burrows and Sami Salo for a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
But the Sharks needed just 67 seconds to tie the game early in the second period. Devin Setoguchi knocked his own deflection past Schneider 57 seconds into the period, and Clowe followed with his 20th of the season at 2:04. Pavelski nearly added a third 40 seconds after, but his shot hit the left post and bounced away.
"They like to establish their game early," Clowe said. "After that -- to pop 50 shots at a first-place team overall in the League, you know you're doing something right."
Mason Raymond put the Canucks back in front at 5:38, and Schneider survived a barrage of shots the rest of the way -- the Sharks outshot Vancouver 19-9 in the middle period.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report