VANCOUVER – Adam Burish was content to be part of a big night for the San Jose Sharks' penalty killers Tuesday night.
Scoring his first goal for his new team as a member of that unit was a nice bonus.
Burish staked the Sharks to a 2-0 lead on a shorthanded breakaway early in the second period, and then helped goaltender Antti Niemi kill off five power plays -- including one in overtime -- before Joe Pavelski finished off the Vancoucer Canucks in the fourth round of a 3-2 shootout win.
"If I start going out there thinking I've got to score, I'm doing my linemates and my teammates a disservice," Burish said. "I've got to focus on other things. I've got to be solid defensively, I've got to kill penalties, I've got to bring energy. But if you can score goals, it feels a little better, too."
San Jose coach Todd McLellan credited the penalty kill for providing energy when, after giving up the tying goal with 25 seconds left in the second period, it snuffed out a Vancouver chance to start the third.
"Giving up a goal late in the second, having to go on the penalty kill right away was a hurdle we had to overcome and we got our energy after that, we started to play better after that," McLellan said.
Despite several great chances in the third period, San Jose didn't finish it off until the shootout, when Logan Couture tied it in the third round and Niemi stopped Alexandre Burrows to start the fourth, setting up Pavelski for the winner on a wrist shot high to the blocker side of Cory Schneider.
"It's not looking good there for a second, and then within a minute or two you've got a chance to win it," Pavelski said. "The PK was awesome tonight, and then to get a goal on it, you can ask for much more."
The Sharks killed off another chance with six minutes left, and again in overtime as the Canucks finished 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Niemi was a huge part of it, finishing with 36 saves through the end of regulation before stopping three of four in the shootout.
"He's been our best player all year long and he showed again tonight," captain Joe Thornton said of Niemi.
San Jose also got goals from unlikely sources, with Burish and Scott Gomez both scoring their first in a Sharks' uniform to end one-year droughts.
For a team that hasn't scored more than two goals in regulation in 11 games over more than a month, it was a welcome contribution.
"Our four guys that score a lot weren't even on the board tonight and we still found a way to win," McLellan said of Thornton, Pavelski, Couture and Patrick Marleau. "That's a real positive sign for our team."
That said, the coach left little doubt the penalty killers were the difference as San Jose won for the third time in four games – and recorded a point for the fourth straight (3-0-1) – after only winning one of the previous 10.
In addition to Niemi, he singled out Brad Stuart, who assisted on both goals and lost teeth blocking a shot on a third-period penalty kill, as well as Michal Handzus and Douglas Murray, for killing off the overtime penalty.
"When your best penalty killer is your goaltender you have a chance, but Zeus (Handzus), Stewie (Stuart) and Cranky (Murray) did a really good job of getting on shooting lanes and clearing pucks out," McLellan said.
As good as they were, the Canucks were left shaking their heads at being unable to convert, especially on the 4-on-3 in overtime, as their run of power-play futility extended to 0-for-15 over the last six games.
"If your power play is minus-1, it's tough to win games," said captain Henrik Sedin, who started the comeback with 6:37 left in the second period. "We've got to start scoring goals and that's the bottom line."
Jannik Hansen also scored, and Schneider stopped 29 shots -- including eight in overtime -- before getting beat on two of four in the shootout as the Canucks lost for the fourth time in five games.
"People kept talking about how this team doesn't have any offense, but as far as I could see they are pretty dangerous," Schneider said of the Sharks. "Especially 4-on-4 when they get open ice like that."
Gomez, who also went more then a year before scoring his first goal last season, opened the scoring 7:23 in on a rebound that found him alone in the high slot for a shot over the right shoulder of a dropping Schneider, just under the cross bar and inside the post.
"Obviously it's time," Gomez said. "I know I can score."
It was actually only 23 games between goals for Gomez, but Burish snapped a 44-game drought with his first since Feb. 16, 2012, converting a nice shorthanded breakaway pass from Stuart with a quick wrist shot from between the top of the faceoff circles that beat Schneider off the tip of the glove and in.
"I'm just more happy for Bur scoring," Gomez said. "It's just a huge lift. We sit next to each other on the plane and the other day we were saying one of us was due."
After Sedin closed the gap, Hansen scored for a third-straight game with 25 seconds left in the period to tie it, continuing a whirlwind four days that included the birth of premature twins between Saturday night's home win against the Los Angeles Kings and Sunday's road loss to the Calgary Flames. Hansen, who was able to attend the surprise birth only because the Canucks' charter flight Saturday night was delayed by a snowstorm in Canada, has five points in three games.
His latest came after a turnover by Sharks forward Ryane Clowe allowed the Canucks to extend a long shift in San Jose's end. Mason Raymond, who has three points since moving to center with the injury to Ryan Kesler, dropped a pass for Hansen inside the top of the left faceoff circle, and his shot beat Niemi high as he dropped to look under Higgins screen.
"Higgy, Mase and I are finding a way to feed off each other and right now the puck is finding a way through," Hansen said. "We didn't want to be down two halfway through the game, but we came back and I thought we had enough chances in the third to put this game away."
Both teams had several chances to, but the goalies made a handful of good saves in the final eight minutes and throughout a back and forth overtime.
"Pretty entertaining game there, especially at the end," Schneider said. "We worked hard, put a lot of pucks to the net, and had some opportunities late, but Niemi played really good. Seems he's been doing that a lot this year."
Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard, back in the lineup after two games as a healthy scratch, left the game midway through the third period with a charley horse and did not return. He will be re-evaluated Wednesday.