VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) –Mats Sundin and the Vancouver Canucks rebounded from a poor outing against the St. Luois Blues Friday pouring everything but hot oil on the San Jose goal, but couldn’t find the key to goalie Brian Boucher’s kitchen.
Boucher kept San Jose in the game for two periods, and then watched the Sharks take over the third.
Boucher made 22 of his 24 saves through the first 40 minutes, and San Jose captain Patrick Marleau scored twice in the final 20, lifting the Sharks to a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
"It took us a while to get our game going, but Bouch played outstanding for us in the first two periods, held us in the game, and allowed us to play a hard 20 at the end," Marleau said after his second two-goal game in a row.
Outshot 24-17 through two periods and a little lucky to be tied, the Sharks only gave up two shots while firing 10 in the last period. Marleau put them ahead on a power play scramble midway through, and added his second with 2:06 left.
"That was our best period," said Boucher, who made his first start - and just his second appearance - since Dec. 15 after Evgeni Nabokov backstopped Friday night's 4-1 win in Edmonton. "We said if we could have 20 minutes to win this game in Vancouver, we'd take it and we certainly did it."
Sundin scored his first goal in his third game with the Canucks, but for the second straight night was in the penalty box when the winning goal was scored. Sundin, who was serving a slashing penalty when St. Louis went ahead with 2:10 left Friday night, was off for high-sticking when Marleau scored.
"It was a broken play and my stick went up," Sundin said. "I'm not going to lose sleep over that. It's unfortunate, but that stuff happens in hockey."
The goal, which went in off Marleau's skate after Dan Boyle swiped at a loose puck in the slot, required a brief video review. Marleau made a kicking motion, but not until well after the puck bounced off his skate and under Curtis Sanford.
"By the looks of it there was a kicking intention but the puck had already found its way between my pads before you could see the kicking motion so I think that was the determining factor," said Sanford, who stopped 23 shots.
Marleau added his team-leading 23rd goal after a giveaway left him alone in front of the Canucks net, lifting a quick backhand shot through Sanford.
"Our captain stepped up just like he has to do night in and night out," coach Todd McLellan said. "I was very happy to see him elevate his game in the third period. He's done that two nights in a row and as a result we win games."
One assist, two shots, and three blocked shots. Was this a typo back at the NHL office?
Two goals - including the game-winner - to go with six hots and three steals. That's a deserving star.
Scored his first of the year and looks like he's rounding into form. It's no co-incedence that the Twins had a stellar outing on a night that Mats made a mark.
Rob Blake and Mike Grier also scored for the Sharks, who were also playing for the second straight night. San Jose backup Brian Boucher made his first start - and just his second appearance - since Dec. 15 after Evgeni Nabokov backstopped Friday night's 4-1 win in Edmonton. Boucher finished with 24 saves to improve to 9-1-1 this season.
“I thought the effort was significantly better for the first two periods [than in last night’s 6-4 loss],” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “The difference in the first two periods was obviously our inability to put away the grade-A chances that we had and take the lead.”
“We out-chanced them, and I thought we out-played them. In the third there wasn’t a lot of room on the ice. We made a few mistakes and they made us pay for it.”
Sundin scored his first goal on his first shot since joining Vancouver, tying the game on the power play with 7.6 seconds left in the first period.
Sundin, who hadn't played in nine months before his Canucks debut Wednesday, fired his 556th career goal into an empty net from the left faceoff circle with Brian Boucher down after Kevin Bieksa's point shot caromed off a crowd in front.
“In the end it’s all about winning,” he said. “I thought we played a pretty good game actually, they got some good, lucky breaks that went off their feet and into our net.”
After a disappointing 6-4 loss to last-place St. Louis Friday night, the Canucks gave Western Conference-leading San Jose a stiffer test. But Vancouver's losing streak against the Sharks still extended to six games, a skid that dates to April 2007, and includes a 5-0 thumping in San Jose on Dec. 23.
“Overall we played a lot better tonight. We competed against the best team in our conference and if we’d had a couple lucky bounces we could have won that game.”
Daniel Sedin also scored for the Canucks, who fell to 1-2-2 in their last five games and have now dropped three straight on home ice. Vancouver outshot the Sharks 24-17 through 40 minutes, but only got two on net in the third period.
Sundin, who signed as a free agent on Dec. 18, easily had his best game with the Canucks, recording four shots through two periods after being blanked his first two games. If not for Boucher, he could have had his first multiple-point night.
Boucher threw out his glove to rob the 37-year-old on a point-blank power play rebound shot early in the second period, and stopped another in-tight backhand in the final seconds of the period.
Boucher also got a break after getting a piece of Daniel Sedin's shot with nine seconds left in the second, as Kyle Wellwood's swipe at the rebound sent the puck went under the sprawling goalie but stopped with just the slightest portion not over the goal line.
Curtis Sanford made 23 saves in his first start since a groin injury forced him out of a Dec. 30 game after the first period - and also forced the Canucks to acquire Jason LaBarbera in a trade with Los Angeles that same night.
He didn't have much chance on Blake's goal, a centering pass that went off Ryan Kesler's skate atop the crease shortly after the first penalty in a 5-on-3 expired.
But Sanford probably wants another chance on Grier's go-ahead marker two minutes into the second period, a 30-foot shot of a rolling puck that fluttered over his glove.
“[Grier’s goal] was up on edge when he shot it and it whiffle-balled past me. I’d like to have that one back.
“I thought they just caught a couple lucky bounces that found their way in the net and that was the difference of the game. I thought we played extremely well, we worked very hard and it’s difficult with the outcome.”
The Canucks now face New Jersey Tuesday having lost four straight on home ice.
Notes: Reports that Roberto Luongo will dress Thursday are no more than conjecture as Alain Vigneault said his captain has yet to participate in a single full practice…Sami Salo will skate with the team Monday after breaking a rib Dec. 17th versus Edmonton, though no word on a possible return date… Rob Davison played just ten shifts after replacing Lawrence Nycholat in the line-up for Saturday’s game. He logged 5:34.
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