VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Joe Pavelski would have preferred to score in regulation or overtime, but with no goals since early December and his San Jose Sharks desperate for wins, he begrudgingly accepted a shootout winner.
Pavelski scored the only shootout goal in the second round, and Antti Niemi stopped all three Vancouver shooters in the Sharks' 2-1 victory over the Canucks on Thursday night.
``Even strength, during the games, goals have been tough to come by,' said Pavelski, who only has nine goals this season after scoring 25 each of the last two. ``If it hasn't happened for you, which obviously it hasn't, you have to step up in other ways. It's a big two points.'
San Jose survived defenseman Dan Boyle's overtime penalty for a gloved punch to Ryan Kesler's face, and Pavelski fired a low shot past Luongo's blocker in the shootout. After going without a goal since Dec. 8, a drought that includes missing eight games with a lower-body injury, Pavelski hopes it might help turn a disappointing season around - for both him and the Sharks.
``Hopefully, it sparks something else,' Pavelski said. ``I think you realize you still have the shot, that you can still make the shot and score.'
Niemi, who made 36 saves through overtime, stopped Mason Raymond and Daniel Sedin before poke-checking Kesler in the final round to seal the victory.
``Nemo stole the show,' Pavelski said. ``They had some good looks.'
Rookie Logan Couture scored his team-leading 21st goal for the Sharks, who have won three straight after losing the previous six. San Jose moved into a tie for ninth in the Western Conference, one point out of the final playoff spot.
``We've just got to get points. That's the bottom line,' said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who was robbed twice by Luongo, and bloodied by an uncalled high stick from Alex Burrows later. ``We've got to get back in this race.'
Henrik Sedin scored and Luongo made 45 saves for the Canucks, 1-2-2 in their last five games after recording points the previous 17 (14-0-3). Vancouver leads the Western Conference with 66 points, a point behind NHL-leading Philadelphia.
``It's hard to assess after a loss,' Luongo said. ``Obviously, I felt pretty good during the game. But I'd like to have gotten the win.'
Vancouver got off to a strong start, outshooting the Sharks 17-10 in the first period, and opened the scoring midway through on a nice play by Henrik Sedin and twin brother Daniel. But Niemi kept it close with a handful of big saves, including a couple of scrambles with the puck lying behind him, and San Jose took over and tied it during a dominant second period.
The Canucks, coming off a five-game trip, were outshot 25-9 in the period and relied on Luongo to keep it tied after Couture scored 6:14 in.
``We were better for two periods and in overtime,' Henrik Sedin said. ``But the middle period we gave up close to 30 shots and close to 20 scoring chances. That's not the way we want to play.'
Vancouver defenseman Christian Ehrhoff passed it right to Couture in front of Luongo, who made a great left pad save on the first shot in tight, but was down and out as Couture lifted in the rebound.
``Both teams had great goaltenders,' Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. ``Two goaltenders that were on top of their game made saves when they needed to.'
NOTES: San Jose forwards Kyle Wellwood and Ben Eager made their Sharks debuts on the third line two days after being acquired. ... San Jose signed local university goalie Jordan White to a one-day amateur tryout contract to back up Niemi after Antero Niittymaki hurt his groin the game-day skate and was placed on injured reserve, meaning he'll miss at least a week. ... San Hose D Kent Huskins was a surprise scratch. C John McCarthy returned after missing 17 games with an upper-body injury and centered the fourth line.
The Associated Press News Service
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