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Sharks tie game late, beat Canucks in OT

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER - Dan Boyle wasn't going to miss an open look twice.

After Boyle helped tie the game late in regulation by missing an open shot, the veteran defenseman made no mistake when he got another chance in overtime. Rookie Tomas Hertl converted Boyle's whiff to tie the game with 1:05 left in the third period, and Boyle won it by scoring a power-play goal with 2:22 remaining in overtime as the Sharks came back to beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 on Thursday night.

With Canucks captain Henrik Sedin off for hooking, the Sharks' power play worked the puck around crisply to Boyle at the top of the left circle for a perfect shot over a sprawling Roberto Luongo.

"That one I put it where I wanted it," Boyle said of a shot that bounced off the back post and out so quickly it took a review to confirm a goal. "The power play needed to come through. We actually struggled quite a bit against Vancouver through three games but got a huge one."

The tying goal was a lot less pretty.

It started with goalie Antti Niemi on the bench for an extra skater and Sharks captain Joe Thornton lying on the ice behind the Vancouver net. Thornton managed to sweep a loose puck to an open Boyle between the circles, but he whiffed on his shot only to have the puck squirt to Hertl at the side of the net. He lifted his 11th goal - tops among NHL rookies - over Luongo, who was stranded by the miss.

"That was a puck that came out slow and I could see in slow motion four or five guys coming together and I was going to shoot and I changed my mind at the last second and it just spun off and was a very lucky, fortunate bounce for us," Boyle said. "Tomas was in the right place at the right time. That's what scorers do."

Niemi finished with 34 saves and was busiest while being outshot 20-9 in the second period as the Sharks won their second straight following a five-game losing streak. They are 2-1-4 in their past seven games, six of which have gone past regulation.

"Nemo gave us a chance to stay in it until the end, he made a number of big saves," coach Todd McLellan said. "This becomes the game you hear hockey people talk about the hockey gods, where it starts to even out. We weren't the better team tonight and we have been on the other end of that where we were the better team and found a way not to win it. Tonight we found a way to come back."

Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa opened the scoring on a power play one-timer with 6:20 left in the second period and Luongo made 28 saves for the Canucks, who have lost three straight (0-2-1).

"I thought they got a really lucky break on their tying goal and they get a power play in OT and that's it," Luongo said. "That's how close the NHL is. We're a minute away from playing what I thought was a really great game, and all of a sudden it turns into a loss."

Bieksa's goal also snapped a 2-for-28 funk for Vancouver's 28th-ranked power play in the previous seven games. It was just the Canucks' third man-advantage goal on home ice this season.

For a while it looked like the Canucks' penalty-killers would make that stand up. Luongo got a break when Thornton rang a shot off the crossbar on a first-period power play, but Vancouver killed off all three chances against the Sharks' eighth-ranked power play, and had killed off 26 straight before Boyle converted in overtime.

"It's a kick in the teeth," coach John Tortorella said, "But looking at the big picture and some of the things we did against a pretty good hockey club, that's what we are going to take out of this."

Tortorella's only lament was a number of missed opportunities to put the game away, including Henrik Sedin shooting the puck through the crease with an empty net midway through the third period.

"We need to finish, we have some opportunities we don't finish, but I am going to take the good stuff out of it," Tortorella said.

This was the last of four games between the Pacific Division rivals this season. San Jose won the first two, extending its winning streak against the Canucks to nine games, including a sweep in the first round of last spring's Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the Canucks snapped that slump with a 4-2 win at San Jose a week earlier and appeared on their way to splitting the season series until the final minutes.

"We're done with a very good team that is going to do some damage here down the stretch to other teams so it was nice to get six out of eight points," Boyle said of the season series being over so soon.

Boyle was also happy the Sharks have continued to rack up points despite struggling for stretches over the past two weeks. San Jose has points in 17 of 20 games.

"We're trying to find ways," Boyle said. "In this League with the extra points they are giving now it's just going to come down to the end of the year and you never know which extra point is going to solidify your playoff position or have you on the outside."

The Canucks will be thinking about the one they let slip Thursday.

"Getting a point is a positive against the top teams but two points was right there," Bieksa said. "It's early in the season. You don't want to get too down on yourself, but we deserved those two points."

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