VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Take your pick of the big reason the Sharks managed to skate out of Rogers Arena with a 3-2 shootout victory Tuesday night over the Vancouver Canucks.
Overdue goals from Scott Gomez and Adam Burish -- two offseason acquisitions who hadn't found the back of the net yet? An impressive penalty kill anchored by goalie Antti Niemi? Pressure-packed shootout scoring from Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski?
Let's begin at the end. The pressure was on Couture in the third round of the shootout. Fail and the Sharks would lose, score on Canucks netminder Cory Schneider, and the Sharks still had hopes of earning that extra point. Couture scored, and when Niemi stopped Alex Burrows in the fourth round of the shootout, Pavelski had a chance to win the game.
"It's about as good a chance as you can get when Nemo makes a big save and you can win it instead of just tying it," said Pavelski. "It's not looking good there for a second, and then in a minute or two you have a chance to win it."
Pavelski did just that, but the game wouldn't have gotten to the shootout if San Jose hadn't killed off a questionable goalie interference call against Gomez in overtime. That kept San Jose a perfect 5-for-5 short-handed with Niemi coming up big all night.
"Our penalty kill was very good against a power play that's very potent. They can do a lot of damage," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan, declining to share his thoughts on the call against Gomez, who clearly was pushed into Schneider by Vancouver forward Mason Raymond.
And the game would never have gotten to overtime if it weren't for the goals by Gomez and Burish.
"We sit next to each other on the plane," Gomez said, "and one of us was due, we were joking around the other day."
Looking to generate offense from a Sharks team that had not scored more than two goals in regulation for the past 10 games, McLellan added a pair of prospects from Worcester -- Tim Kennedy and Bracken Kearns -- to the top two lines.
But if that experiment didn't work, McLellan found a silver lining.
"Our four guys that score a lot for our team weren't even on the board tonight, and we still found a way to win, so that's a real positive sign for our team," the coach said.
The rebound of a shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic ended up on Gomez's stick, and his slap shot beat Schneider on the stick side to give San Jose a 1-0 lead at 7:42 of the first period.
Burish's goal was not only his first of the season but San Jose's first short-handed as well. Less than 30 seconds after Michal Handzus was sent to the penalty box at 4:19 of the second period, Burish took a perfect outlet pass from Brad Stuart, skated in on Schneider and fired a 24-foot wrist shot that Schneider missed on the glove side.
Burish, who was signed for his grit and defensive skills more than his scoring touch, indicated he hadn't been feeling too much pressure to score.
"If I started going out there every night thinking I've got to score, I think I'm kind of doing my linemates and my teammates a disservice because I've got to focus on other things," he said. "But doing that, if you can find ways to contribute by scoring goals you do feel a little better. It's fun."
Vancouver showed its resilience by bouncing back to tie the game before the second period ended.
The Sedins combined on the first goal with Daniel centering the puck from along the left sideboards to Henrik, who fired it past Niemi before he could get into position at 13:23.
And in the final minute, a defensive zone breakdown proved costly as a wrist shot through traffic by Jannik Hansen tied the game with 24.4 seconds left. On top of that, Stuart was called for interference a few seconds later, and the Sharks had to start the third period with him in the penalty box.
"It was a big challenge for us, giving up a goal in the last minute of the second and having to go on the penalty kill right away," McLellan said. "It was a hurdle that we had to overcome, and we got our energy after that."
After the game, he played down his discomfort caused by damage to two teeth.
"One of the teeth is fake already and the other one kind of chipped off the end. It didn't hurt that badly," he said. "I was expecting the pain to come in and it didn't. It's not too bad."
"The coaches in the past have done a tremendous job here in San Jose, but we're all still waiting for that final game to be won," he said, a reference to the lack of a Stanley Cup.
Sharks (11-6-4) at Calgary (8-8-4), 6:30 p.m. CSNCA
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