VANCOUVER - Logan Couture had already scored twice to give the San Jose Sharks a two-goal lead when he tried to come to the bench for a line change with 1:20 left in the third period, but there was no way his teammates were letting him come off the ice.
The Sharks were determined to get Couture his first career hat trick.
Couture, who had 20 two-goal games during seven NHL seasons, completed his first hat trick by scoring into an empty net with 16.4 seconds left to complete the Sharks' 4-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.
"I was going to go to the bench to change and everyone was telling me to stay on the ice," Couture said. "I was going to be out there for the rest of the game regardless of what happened."
Video: SJS@VAN: Spaling kicks a pass back, Couture scores
Couture ended a 10-game goal drought when put the Sharks ahead 2-1 with 11 seconds left in the second period. He scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal with 5:59 left in the third, but after watching an earlier shot at the empty net roll just wide, it was easy to wonder if the 27-year-old was every going to complete a hat trick in the NHL.
"It's weird. I only had one in four years playing junior as well," Couture said. "A lot of two-goal games, I just wasn't able to find the third one. It feels nice to finally do it."
Joe Pavelski also scored and James Reimer made 23 saves for the Sharks (43-28-6), who moved within two points of the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the Pacific Division. San Jose is three points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the division lead. San Jose, which hosts the Canucks on Thursday, has played 77 games, one more than the Kings and two more than the Ducks.
San Jose clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 5-2 win at home against Los Angeles on Monday, didn't arrive in Vancouver until 2 a.m., and was outshot 13-4 by the Canucks the first 19 minutes. But Reimer kept the game scoreless with great glove saves on Sven Baertschi and Alexandre Burrows, and Pavelski opened the scoring 20 seconds into the second period after Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom punched a rebound to him in the slot with his blocker.
Video: SJS@VAN: Reimer flashes leather in the 1st
"We were dealing with a little bit of fatigue, an emotional victory the other night, so we knew we'd be a little bit off," coach Peter DeBoer said. "Reimer was our best player."
Chris Higgins scored shorthanded and Markstrom made 27 saves for the Canucks (27-36-13), who have lost nine straight (0-8-1) and are tied with the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs for the fewest points in the NHL.
"It's tough right now," Markstrom said. "I don't what to say. It doesn't go our way."
San Jose had a chance to extend the lead after Pavelski's goal when Canucks forward Jake Virtanen was given a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct for a late hit on defenseman Roman Polak. Instead, Higgins tied it on a 2-on-1 with 40 seconds left in the five-minute power play, keeping the puck and beating Reimer over the glove from the left faceoff dot.
It was Higgins' first goal since Nov. 8 and his first point in six games since being recalled after spending two months in the American Hockey League.
"Just getting back in this locker room, I didn't think I'd see the day," Higgins said. "A nice moment for me. … I've been through a lot with a lot of guys in the locker-room here."
Video: SJS@VAN: Couture's hat trick leads Sharks to 4-1 win
Couture restored the lead late shortly before the second period ended. He lost the puck trying to bring it out from behind the net, but Nick Spaling, back in the lineup in place of an injured Joel Ward, kicked it right back to Couture; he kicked the puck from his skate to his stick, pulled it around Markstrom's right pad and tucked it inside the far post.
Couture scored his second goal 44 seconds into a lengthy two-man advantage, beating Markstrom between the legs after being left alone in the slot to set up a chance for a feat his coach had no idea he hadn't already done.
"It was a surprise for me. They were talking about it on the bench, somebody said he's got 20 two-goal games, hasn't had three, so nice for him to get that," DeBoer said. "He could have had six or seven goals in the last three or four games, he's just been a little snakebit. It's a good time of year for him to get the monkey off his back."
It was the 13th goal this season for Couture, who has missed 30 games with injuries. San Jose is 29-13-5 with Couture in the lineup and 14-15-1 without him.
"We're a different team with him," DeBoer said, "and our record reflects that."
Video: Reimer, Couture spark Sharks to 4-1 win