Sharks ride fast start to victory against Canucks

Kevin Woodley  - Correspondent | Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 2:02 AM

VANCOUVER -- With Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom making his first NHL start this season on Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks wanted to send a lot of pucks his way early. They only needed four.

Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson and Logan Couture scored in the first 7:45 to power the Sharks to a 6-2 win at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.

Markstrom was beaten three times on the four shots he faced before being lifted.

"We knew it was his first game in the NHL in a long time," Tierney said. "We wanted to try to get to him early, get a lot of shots on him, chase him. That happened, so it was good."

Captain Henrik Sedin scored twice in the second period to pull the Canucks within a goal, but Matt Nieto made it 4-2 with 8:15 left in the period and scored again into an empty net with 2:49 left in the game. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic added another empty-net goal as San Jose won on consecutive nights.

"We knew [it was Markstrom's first start]," said Nieto, who also had an assist. "One of the emphases from the start was [to] get pucks on him. We did a good job of that early, gained the lead and were able to hold it."

Antti Niemi made 26 saves for the Sharks (32-25-8), who moved within three points of the Canucks (36-24-3) for second place in the Pacific Division. The Sharks are even with the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings at 72 points, but remain 10th in the Western Conference because they have played more games than the Flames and Kings.

After slumping in February, San Jose has won its first two games in March following a players-only meeting Sunday. The Sharks came to Vancouver after blanking the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 at home on Monday.

"We know everyone has to hold themselves accountable" Nieto said. "These last two games we've done that. We are going to have to keep doing that, every game is important."

Sedin made it close for a while. He earned his 900th career point with a power-play goal 61 seconds into the second period, then converted another beautiful pass from twin brother Daniel eight minutes later. But it wasn't enough to keep the injury-riddled Canucks from losing to the Sharks at home for the seventh consecutive time.

"We kind of invited them in the chase a little bit," said Eddie Lack, who stopped 23 of 24 after taking over for Markstrom.

Despite playing for a second straight night and arriving late, San Jose jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.

Tierney scored at 3:03 on the Sharks' first shot, jumping on a turnover in the Vancouver zone and beating Markstrom from the left faceoff dot with a wrist shot over the glove and in off the crossbar-post seam.

"You never want to do that," Markstrom, who was second in the AHL this season with a .932 save percentage, said of giving up a goal on the first shot. "I was really excited coming into this game, I felt great in practice and a start like that is kind of nightmare but it happens and you have to refocus. Unfortunately I let a couple more goals in."

Karlsson and Couture scored 27 seconds apart, ending Markstrom's night.

Karlsson's first goal in 12 games came after a weird bounce and a brilliant play by the rookie left wing. A wrist shot off the rush sailed over the net but bounced off the glass and over the net in front of Markstrom, setting off a scramble atop his crease. Karlsson was on his stomach when he somehow hooked the puck towards the net, beating a spread-eagled Markstrom just inside the right post.

"I don't know how I put it in really," Karlsson said.

The Sharks cashed in a rebound on the next shift after Markstrom kicked Nieto's shot off the rush -- his only save -- right to Couture.

"I let out a bad rebound and they put that one in too," Markstrom said. "I have to be better than that. Three goals on four shots, it's not good, I was very disappointed in myself and I let my team down."

Markstrom's teammates defended their new goalie after the game - perhaps better than they did to start the game.

"It's on everyone, not just him," Henrik Sedin said.

Lack, who had given up 10 goals his previous two starts and played four straight since No.1 goalie Ryan Miller injured his knee on Feb. 22, also defended his new playing partner.

"It's two really nice plays on the first two goals and you get caught chasing a little bit. I know exactly how it is," Lack said. "He's a great goalie and a great person to have in the locker room. I know for a fact he is going to bounce back here and there is a lot of games coming up so he is going to get his chances for sure."

The Sedins got the Canucks back into the game early in the second period with a couple of their signature passing plays.

Henrik Sedin had an empty net after a power-play scramble in front left brother Daniel with the puck and Niemi flat on the ice. Rather than shoot into a pile of bodies, Daniel made a blind backhand pass to Henrik for an easy goal to make it 3-1.

Daniel Sedin's assist on Henrik's second goal just over eight minutes later was even prettier. Daniel skated the puck up from below the goal line and into the right slot on his backhand, then spun right onto his forehand and delivered a perfect cross-crease pass to a streaking Henrik, who slid his 15th goal of the season into the empty net.

Henrik downplayed surpassing 900 career points; he was more upset the Canucks couldn't convert a lengthy 5-on-3 shortly after Nieto put the Sharks up 4-2.

"The 5-on-3 we had a couple great looks and just couldn't get it past Niemi," Henrik said. "That was the difference."

The Sedins were also out for Nieto's goal.

After Lack robbed Marleau of a backdoor tap-in, Marleau stripped Daniel Sedin at the side of the net and fed Nieto alone in the slot for a quick shot over the left shoulder of Lack, who was deep in his crease.

"We needed momentum," Nieto said of his first goal in 18 games. "That shift we had, even if we didn't score it was a good momentum shift. We had a couple of chances. Luckily I was able to put one in."

Scoring Summary
1st Period
03:03SJS Chris Tierney (2) ASST: Barclay Goodrow (7) 1 - 0 SJS
07:18SJS Melker Karlsson (10) ASST: Joe Pavelski (28), Matt Irwin (8) 2 - 0 SJS
07:45SJS Logan Couture (22) ASST: Matt Nieto (14), Patrick Marleau (32) 3 - 0 SJS
2nd Period
01:01VAN PPG - Henrik Sedin (14) ASST: Daniel Sedin (41), Radim Vrbata (23) 3 - 1 SJS
09:12VAN Henrik Sedin (15) ASST: Daniel Sedin (42), Chris Higgins (21) 3 - 2 SJS
11:45SJS Matt Nieto (5) ASST: Patrick Marleau (33) 4 - 2 SJS
3rd Period
17:11SJS EN - Matt Nieto (6) ASST: Joe Thornton (42), Brent Burns (32) 5 - 2 SJS
18:09SJS EN - Marc-Edouard Vlasic (8) ASST: Joe Thornton (43) 6 - 2 SJS
Three Stars of the Game
Henrik Sedin
Henrik Sedin
G: 2Shots: 4
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: -3TOI: 20:03
Matt Nieto
Matt Nieto
G: 2Shots: 4
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 3PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 14:00
Patrick Marleau
Patrick Marleau
G: 0Shots: 2
A: 2Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 2
+/-: 2TOI: 18:24
Penalty Summary
1st Period
12:53SJS John Scott  Fighting (maj) against  Derek Dorsett
12:53VAN Derek Dorsett  Fighting (maj) against  John Scott
14:41SJS Joe Thornton  Hooking against  Luca Sbisa
19:31SJS Matt Irwin  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
2nd Period
06:24VAN Chris Higgins  Hi-sticking against  Brenden Dillon
12:20SJS Barclay Goodrow  Cross checking against  Chris Higgins
12:54SJS Patrick Marleau  Hi-sticking against  Linden Vey
3rd Period
08:59SJS Joe Thornton  Hi-sticking against  Derek Dorsett
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays0/11/5
Faceoff Wins1936
Blocked Shots1510
Penalty Minutes157
4B. DillonD0001018:29
8J. PavelskiC0122018:21
12P. MarleauL0222218:24
19J. ThorntonC0231414:47
20J. ScottL001158:32
21B. SmithR0000014:10
39L. CoutureC1015018:32
41M. MuellerD00-12016:59
44M. VlasicD1033023:36
48T. HertlC0001013:58
50C. TierneyC101308:53
52M. IrwinD0120215:52
57T. WingelsC0001016:31
61J. BraunD0041023:17
68M. KarlssonC1021015:20
83M. NietoL2124014:00
88B. BurnsD0121020:36
89B. GoodrowR0111210:13
31A. Niemi2628.92960:00
2D. HamhuisD00-22023:02
5L. SbisaD00-31018:45
6Y. WeberD00-21024:13
7L. VeyR00-11016:56
13N. BoninoC00-20015:18
17R. VrbataR01-32019:03
18R. StantonD0001014:40
20C. HigginsL0102213:41
21B. McMillanL00-11011:31
22D. SedinL02-22018:42
26F. CorradoD00-31015:06
27S. MatthiasC00-13013:00
33H. SedinC20-34020:03
36J. HansenR00-10015:19
41R. KeninsL00-11014:18
44A. ClendeningD0002018:17
51D. DorsettR00-11512:13
53B. HorvatC00-13015:01
31E. Lack2324.95851:07
35J. Markstrom14.2507:45