Sharks try to gain ground on Canucks

( – The San Jose Sharks look to close the gap on second-
place Vancouver Tuesday night when they shoot for a fifth straight series road
victory over the Canucks.

The Sharks snapped an eight-game slide at home with last night’s 4-0 victory
over the Montreal Canadiens, getting 20 saves from Alex Stalock in his second
shutout of the season and fourth of his career.

Stalock won for the first time since Jan. 6 and secured San Jose’s first win
at home since Jan. 31. San Jose also opened up March with a victory after
going just 3-8-2 in February.

Newly-acquired Ben Smith had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, while Joe
Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Matt Irwin all scored in the win.

San Jose got Smith and a conditional seventh-round selection in 2017 from the
Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Andrew Desjardins on Monday, and
also sent forward Tyler Kennedy to the New York Islanders for a conditional

“This was a really good game and that’s the way it has to be,” said Pavelski.
“We took care of business tonight and it was good to see the guys all playing
together tonight.”

San Jose moved into a three-way tie for third place in the Pacific Division
with Calgary and Los Angeles. All three clubs have 70 points — five back of
second-place Vancouver — and are in action tonight. The Flames visit the
Philadelphia Flyers while the Kings take on the hosting Edmonton Oilers.

Though the Canucks have won two of three versus the Sharks this season, with
the clubs wrapping their five-game set on Saturday in San Jose, the Sharks
have won seven of the previous 10 encounters overall and four straight in

Antti Niemi is the likely starter tonight for San Jose and is 10-8-2 with a
2.57 goals against average and .914 save percentage in 20 previous meetings
with the Canucks.

The Canucks have won seven of their last 10 games and recovered from blowing a
three-goal lead in the third period on Sunday to top the St. Louis Blues 6-5
in a shootout.

Chris Higgins had the deciding shootout tally and Eddie Lack secured the win
in the tiebreaker by turning aside T.J. Oshie. Lack made 35 saves through

“I was thinking to myself if the boys score five for me and we can’t win,
there is something wrong,” Lack told “It was a weird game and I kept
battling and it’s a very big win for us.”

Shawn Matthias, Yannick Weber, Jannik Hansen, Henrik Sedin and Nick Bonino
tallied in regulation for the Canucks.

Lack was making his third start in a row since No. 1 goaltender Ryan Miller
went down with a right knee injury, but Jacob Markstrom could get the start
tonight. It would be the first of his career versus the Sharks, who he has
faced once before in relief.