By Josh Dubow, The Associated Press
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Jannik Hansen angered the San Jose Sharks with his hit to Tommy Wingels’ head. They got even more upset when he scored immediately after leaving the penalty box.
Hansen’s goal turned the momentum in the second period, and Ryan Miller stopped one of two penalty shots he faced to help the Vancouver Canucks snap a four-game road losing streak by beating the Sharks 3-1 on Tuesday night.
“It swings momentum,” Hansen said. “These guys are so good on the power play. If they don’t score they create momentum. They were getting opportunities. But scoring right at the end of theirs that kind of turned everything in our favour and we were able to get a little bit of breathing room.”
Bo Horvat and Radim Vrbata also scored for the Canucks, who have won their last three games in San Jose. Vancouver bounced back from a lacklustre loss in Anaheim on Sunday to get a key win against a division rival.
Miller made 31 saves in all to beat the Sharks for the seventh straight time. He stopped Joe Pavelski’s penalty shot in the first period and then allowed a goal on one to Joe Thornton in the second.
“Pretty wild,” Miller said. “I was waiting for a third. Everything kind of happens in threes.”
That was all the Sharks would get as they lost their third straight game. Alex Stalock made 18 saves.
Hansen was sent to the penalty box when he knocked Wingels down with a hit to the head. Wingels was forced to leave the game to get checked out for a possible concussion. Hansen was penalized for two minutes but could be in for more punishment from the NHL although he believes the hit was clean.
As soon as Hansen’s penalty ended, he took a pass from Alex Edler and skated in alone on Stalock to score his ninth goal of the season. That made it 2-0 and added insult to injury, although Wingels returned to the game later in the period.
“I didn’t like it,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “I didn’t like the hit, I didn’t like the fact that he came out of the box and scored the winning goal and got to play the rest of the night. That certainly wasn’t the reason why we lost.”
The Sharks answered after Thornton was pulled down on a breakaway by Chris Tanev. Thornton beat Miller on the penalty shot, ending a streak of seven straight misses for San Jose. Thornton scored the Sharks’ previous penalty shot goal on Dec. 30, 2009, against Washington. San Jose had two penalty shots in that game, as well, as Ryane Clowe also scored.
The Canucks added to their lead midway through the second when Vrbata’s wrist shot from the circle deflected off Stalock’s glove and into the net.
The Sharks failed to generate many chances in the third against Vancouver’s stingy defence and had their eight-game home winning streak snapped.
“For me there’s a price our team has to pay and right now we aren’t reaching deep enough, not digging deep enough, we want everything on sale and take the easy way out of it,” McLellan said.
Vancouver struck first thanks to a fortunate bounce when Horvat’s centring pass deflected off defenceman Brenden Dillon’s skate and trickled past Stalock.
The Sharks had chances to tie it in the first period but Pavelski hit the crossbar on a penalty shot, and Miller made four saves to help kill three power plays in the period.
“Obviously our best penalty killer is between the pipes,” Hansen said. “We’re limiting opportunities and when they do get shots, it’s from the points not through the seams or making it hard on him. It’s a joint effort right now.”
NOTES: The Canucks have killed 34 of 36 penalties in December, including all four this game. … The Sharks are 1-for-4 on penalty shots this season. … San Jose F Matt Nieto returned after missing nine games with an ankle injury. Chris Tierney was sent back to the minors.