SAN JOSE – Without top two centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, both injured, the Sharks will need some of their depth players to start finding the score sheet more often.
Against the lowly Canucks on Tuesday night, that’s precisely what happened in a 3-1 Sharks win. Kevin Labanc, Joel Ward and Chris Tierney all found the net as San Jose remained in the running for home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin next week.
The Sharks drew even with the Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division with 97 points, although Edmonton has a game in hand. The Sharks moved five points ahead of Calgary and cannot be caught by the Flames, who lost in Anaheim on Tuesday night.
The Sharks set a new franchise record for fastest two goals to start a game, as Labanc and Ward both scored in the first half-minute of regulation.
Labanc’s eighth goal, and first in 29 games, opened the scoring. He settled a loose puck in the offensive zone after a faceoff, spun around and whipped it past Richard Bachman just 18 seconds into the game.
Ward’s goal came just 12 seconds later, as he slapped home a bouncing puck from the top of the circle.
The Sharks’ two goals in 30 seconds to start a game bested their previous franchise record of 47 seconds, set on Oct. 22, 1998.
Instead of putting their foot on the Canucks’ throats, though, the Sharks allowed Vancouver to get back into the game. San Jose, which at one point held a 10-1 advantage on the shot clock, didn’t register a single shot on goal over the final 11:18 minutes of the first period.
In the second period former Sharks prospect Nikolay Goldobin had two glorious chances to score, but missed what looked to be a gaping net on both.
Defenseman Chris Tanev finally got one back for the Canucks in the third period. His wrist shot through traffic beat Martin Jones at 3:30 cut the Sharks’ lead in half at 2-1, and Vancouver continued to press immediately afterwards.
But Tierney managed to redirect a Brent Burns wrist shot at 9:18, and the Sharks were never in much danger after that.
San Jose swept the home-and-home with Vancouver, as well as the five-game season series, all in regulation. The Canucks dropped their fifth straight.
The Sharks had just one power play, and did not register a shot. The new top unit featured Burns, Labanc, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Mikkel Boedker. San Jose is 0-for-8 power play over its last four games.
Vancouver was 0-for-3, and just 1-for-11 in the five games of the season series.
Making his sixth straight start, Jones finished with 33 saves. He’s 6-1-0 in his career against the Canucks.
Bachman was playing in just his fourth game of the season, and allowed three goals on 25 shots in falling to 2-2-0.
Timo Meier returned to the Sharks lineup after he sat out Sunday.
Tierney was playing in his 200th career NHL game. He had five points (3g, 2a) in five games against Vancouver this season.
The Sharks close out their season series with Edmonton on Thursday. The teams have split the first four games, with San Jose capturing the first two and the Oilers the two most recent, including 3-2 on March 30 at Rogers Place.
Calgary visits SAP Center on Saturday in the regular season finale.