Looking at five head-to-head matchups with the Sharks going into Sunday night’s meeting, the desperate Canucks probably figure they’ll have to win at least four of those to get into the postseason.
They didn’t get off to a good start.
Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Patrick Marleau and Justin Braun all tallied third period goals, as the Sharks downed Vancouver on Sunday night at Rogers Arena, 4-1.
San Jose opened up a 12-point lead on Vancouver in the Pacific Division, and may have ended any chance the Canucks had at making the playoffs while strengthening their own prospects.
The Sharks’ offense was effectively dormant through two periods with just 14 shots on goal before it awoke in the final frame.
It started with the captain and leading goal scorer. Pavelski, who had just one score in his last 12 games, forced defenseman Luca Sbisa into a turnover deep in the offensive zone and fluttered a backhander past Ryan Miller at 4:21 to tie it at 1-1.
Hertl’s 15th goal gave the visitors their first lead just two and a half minutes later, when he got a little piece of a Braun floater from the point at 6:49. That was the game-winner.
A two-man advantage goal by Marleau on a blast from the high slot at 14:09 served as the insurance, while Braun had a late empty-netter.
The Sharks won their sixth straight game at Rogers Arena, and have still not lost consecutive games in regulation since Jan. 2-7. They are right back in Vancouver on Thursday and host the Canucks on Saturday.
Daniel Sedin’s goal in the second period was the only score through two periods. Just after a Canucks power play expired, he received a pass from brother Henrik and curled towards the crease. He hammered away at the puck and was eventually able to squeeze it through Martin Jones at 3:03 of the second period.
New acquisition James Reimer was not with the team, presumably getting his visa situation worked out. Aaron Dell, recalled from the AHL Barracuda on Saturday, served as Jones’ backup.
After not having a power play in their previous game, a 3-1 loss to Buffalo on Friday, the Sharks went 1-for-4. It was their third power play goal in the last seven games (3-for-17).
Vancouver had just one second period power play and did not convert, although its lone goal came just seconds after Braun exited the box.
Jones started for the eighth straight game, and 16th time in the last 17 games. He allowed one goal on 24 shots in recording his 30th win of the season (30-17-4).
Miller fell to 9-3-0 in his career against San Jose, allowing three goals on 27 shots.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic recorded two assists, setting a new career high for points in a season (37). He has 26 points (5g, 21a) in his last 31 games.
Tommy Wingels sat out his fifth straight game with a sprained left shoulder. Melker Karlsson and Logan Couture missed stretches in the first and second periods, respectively, but returned.
The Sharks are right back in action at home on Monday when they host the Canadiens, who were off on Sunday. San Jose won in Montreal on Dec. 15, 3-1.