One center finally got going, while another left the game early with what looked like a potentially concerning injury.
Tomas Hertl scored twice in the Sharks’ 3-1 win over Vancouver on Sunday at Rogers Arena, but Joe Thornton wasn’t able to play after a first period collision with Michael Chaput on which replays showed his left knee bending backwards.
There was no immediate word on the severity of Thornton’s injury.
The Sharks won for just the second time in their last 10 games (2-8-0), and snapped both a six-game road losing streak and eight-game losing streak against the Western Conference. They drew to within two points of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and are three points ahead of fourth-place Calgary. The Flames host the Ducks later on Sunday.
Hertl snapped a 16-game goal drought with two goals in the first period in less than two minutes.
After Drew Shore whiffed on a puck in the defensive zone, Hertl took control and pushed it to Jannik Hansen in front of the net. Hansen gave the puck to Mikkel Boedker, and Hertl poked in a Boedker rebound at the 11-minute mark.
Just one minute and 52 seconds later, Hertl potted another. Troy Stetcher blocked a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot from the point, and the puck went precisely to Hertl’s tape in the circle for an easy conversion past Ryan Miller.
Shortly after that, though, Thornton got hurt. He crumpled to the ice and made his way to the bench, but fell over once he got behind the bench and struggled mightily to get up the tunnel to the dressing room. The Sharks are already without Logan Couture, who took a puck to the face on March 25 in Nashville and has not played since.
There wasn’t much action after that until late in regulation. Sven Baertschi scored with 3:53 to go in the third period to cut the Sharks’ lead in half, as his knuckle puck somehow snuck through Martin Jones off of a Vancouver faceoff win by Bo Horvat.
The Canucks pressured late with Miller pulled, but Jones denied Horvat with about half a minute to go, and Patrick Marleau scored into an empty net on a shot from deep in the Sharks’ end that trickled in with three seconds left.
The game marked the first trip back to Vancouver for longtime Canucks forward Hansen, who was acquired by the Sharks just before the trade deadline. Hansen drew an early hooking minor on Nikita Tryamkin, who prevented Hansen from making a move on a breakaway and probably should have resulted in a penalty shot.
The Sharks have won all four meetings against the Canucks in regulation. They play for the fifth and final time at SAP Center on Tuesday in the second of a home-and-home.
Vancouver lost its fourth in a row, and is just 2-9-2 in its last 13. The Sharks have won 11 straight game at Rogers Arena.
There were just two minor penalties in the game, one to each side, and neither team capitalized on its lone power play.
San Jose is 0-for-7 on the power play over its last three games, and 12-for-18 on the penalty kill in its last seven games.
After head coach Pete DeBoer criticized him fairly bluntly after the Sharks’ 5-2 loss in Calgary on Friday, Jones responded in what was his fifth straight start with 29 saves. He improved to 5-1-0 in his career against Vancouver.
Miller allowed two goals on 24 shots.
Micheal Haley and Timo Meier came out so that Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward could return after they were healthy scratches on Friday in Calgary. Donskoi and Ward started with Marleau before Thornton’s injury prompted the lines to be altered.
Vlasic has one point in each of the last four games (1g, 3a).
Former Sharks prospect Nikolay Goldobin was a healthy scratch for Vancouver.
After hosting the Canucks on Tuesday, the Sharks remain at home to play the Oilers on Thursday and close out the regular season with the Flames on Saturday.