VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The San Jose Sharks maintained their recent dominance of the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
Antti Niemi made 25 saves and Matt Pelech's first NHL goal stood up as the winner and the Sharks stayed perfect on the season by downing the Canucks 4-1 for a ninth straight victory over their Pacific Division rivals.
“It was a test for us to come on the road and play in this building again,” Sharks coach Todd McClellan said. “There weren't any freebies. A good one for us to play in.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns, into an empty net, also scored for the Sharks (4-0-0), who beat the Canucks 4-1 in both teams' season opener after sweeping Vancouver four straight in the first round of last season's playoffs.
San Jose, which also won all three meetings during the 2013 regular season, has not lost to the Canucks (3-2-0) since Jan. 21, 2012.
“We're just deep, we're really, really deep and we want to come at you every night,” said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who along with Logan Couture, added two assists. “We have been doing that early on.”
The key was Marleau's goal that made it 3-1 midway through the second period.
Despite trailing 2-0 after the first, the Canucks managed to cut the San Jose lead in half with Mike Santorelli's fourth goal in three games at 10:20, only to have Marleau score on a one-timer just 95 seconds later.
“No matter what happened or where we struggled, we crawl back into it (at) 2-1. We need to at least play with that for a little bit and not get scored on so quickly,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said.
“Really that was a gimme. We were just too slow. We turn it over when we don't need to and then we don't react defensively after the turnover.”