Skip to main content

Sharks handle Canucks in Tortorella's debut

by Eric Gilmore /

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks were trailing the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 early in the second period Thursday night when Brent Burns took a pass from rookie Tomas Hertl above the right circle on a rush.

Burns knew he had only one option.

"I've been taking a lot of heat from the coaches about shooting," Burns said. "I didn't know anybody else was out there. I was just shooting."

Burns buried his shot, pulling the Sharks even, and they scored three more goals in a 4-1 season-opening rout of Vancouver that ruined new Canucks coach John Tortorella's debut.

Sharks defenseman Justin Braun scored a goal later in the second period, and Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels scored late in the final period. Goaltender Antti Niemi made 21 saves; Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo stopped 31 shots.

The Sharks, who swept the Canucks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, defeated them for the 10th straight time; four in the regular season, four in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and two in the preseason.

Burns' goal highlighted a strong opening game for a top line that includes center Joe Thornton and Hertl.

The Sharks pulled even at 5:53 of the second on Burns' goal from the right circle. Thornton forced a turnover from Jason Garrison in the neutral zone and got the puck to Hertl, who raced toward Luongo, drew a defender to him and zipped a pass to Burns on his right. Burns beat Luongo with a laser.

"He probably has one of the best shots I've seen," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I had the opportunity to play with Wendel Clark when I was playing junior. The release that Burnsie has and the power and the impact of the puck is pretty close to that so he should be using that shot, especially playing with those guys."

Hertl, 19, got his first NHL assist and point. He became the first teenager to open a season with San Jose since defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic in 2006-07.

"They said he was big, they said he was fast, that he had a good shot," Thornton said of Hertl, their first-round draft choice in 2012. "But until you see it yourself, you don't know. I think he has all the attributes of being a perennial all-star."

Hertl said he was relaxed when the puck dropped.

"I am never nervous," he said. "Every game I have fun. I feel very good. I'm very happy with this first game. One point and one win, it's very crazy. I'm happy."

Garrison scored a power-play goal in the first period, and the Canucks owned a 1-0 lead at the end of 20 minutes.

"We had a really good start," Tortorella said. "The first 10 minutes we played the way we should. Then after we scored we turned a couple over and they [capitalized] on them and we lost the momentum.

"It was a disjointed game with all the penalties. We have a lot to learn as far as tenacity, as far as being consistent on the puck. I saw some very good things for minutes at a time."

The Sharks went 0-for-8 on the power play, while the Canucks were 1-for-6.

The Sharks wasted a two-minute, 5-on-3 advantage midway through the second period after Garrison was called for tripping Thornton on a rush and Ryan Kessler was penalized for goaltender interference during the same sequence. But with 1:53 left in the period, Braun gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with his first goal since Feb. 10, 2012, ending an 85-game drought, including the postseason. With Logan Couture providing a screen, Braun ripped a shot from the right point that somehow got through heavy traffic and past Luongo.

"Braunie had a hand injury all last year that occurred when he was over in Europe before the lockout," McLellan said. "It prevented him from really playing the type of game that he can play. Tonight we saw him get pucks through. They don't have to be big slappers. They are just seeing-eye pucks that got to the net. I thought [Couture] did a really good job of getting in the goaltender's eyes in that situation."

Late in the second, Vlasic was injured when he took an inadvertent skate to the face from Vancouver's Chris Higgins along the boards. Vlasic immediately left the ice and went to the dressing room, but he returned for the start of the third period.

Midway through the third, Higgins had a great chance to tie the score, but Niemi stopped his hard shot from the low slot.

"He had some huge saves tonight again," Burns said of Niemi. "He makes the easy saves and the crazy ones, too. It's great to play in front of him."

Marleau made it 3-1 at 14:39. Couture forced a turnover by Higgins and whipped a cross-ice pass to Marleau, who beat Luongo from the left circle. Wingels added some insurance with 4:03 remaining, scoring from close range off the rush.

"It felt good, but I gave up four goals on 35 shots," Luongo said. "That's not going to do it. I thought the last two periods went OK. There were some breakdowns, and I would have liked to make one or two more saves."

The Sharks struggled to score 5-on-5 goals last season, but that's how they scored all of their goals Thursday night.

"We're going to be fine on the power play," Thornton said. "I'm not concerned about that at all and I don't think anybody is. It just was nice to get four goals 5-on-5 for a change and let our 5-on-5 game win us the game."

The Sharks outshot Vancouver 16-7 in the first period, but the Canucks scored the only goal when Garrison connected at 9:04 with Burns in the penalty box for slashing Higgins.

Henrik Sedin sent a pass to Daniel Sedin in the lower right circle, and he zipped the puck to Garrison in the high slot for a slap shot got past Couture, who dove in front of the net, and beat Niemi.

"We played great in the first period, then we turned the puck over," Henrik Sedin said. "When you do that in this building they will take advantage, which they did and grabbed the momentum."

Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart (lower body) and forward Adam Burish (lower body) missed the game. Forwards Raffi Torres (knee surgery) and Marty Havlat (pelvic surgery) also are out. Canucks forwards Jordan Schroeder (fractured foot) and Zack Kassian (suspension) were out.

View More