SAN JOSE, CA - DECEMBER 28: Ryan Kesler #17 of the Vancouver Canucks collides with Torrey Mitchell #17 of the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion at San Jose on December 28, 2011 in San Jose, California. The Canucks won the game in overtime 3-2. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The race to three line may be getting a bit old, but tonight, it rang true yet again. This time, it was the San Jose Sharks triumphing over Vancouver by a score of 3-2, as Michal Handzus was the only skater to convert against Roberto Luongo in the shootout.
To say that the games between these teams are hotly contested is an understatement; you might say that these matchups have melted ice with their ferocious competitiveness. All games this season have been decided by a 3-2 score, but this time it was San Jose stealing one from Vancouver on their home ice.
It didn't start off too well for San Jose, though, especially when you consider that Logan Couture was hit in the knee with a shot and was hobbled getting to the bench. Shortly thereafter, Jannik Hansen would score on a funky deflection off Jamie McGinn's stick as he tried to get back into the play. It was an unfortunate situation for San Jose, who saw franchise defenseman Brent Burns jump in for an offensive chance which led to the ensuing three-on-one where Hansen eventually found twine.
Both Couture and San Jose would recover though, as both showed up later in the game. In the second period, Couture and Ryane Clowe would assist on a tying goal from Benn Ferriero. After a Couture shot hit Kevin Bieksa, who crumbled next to the net, Clowe would put a shot on Luongo that Ferriero would tip in with a strong backhand move.
The second period ended up being all San Jose, as Patrick Marleau would get his fourteenth goal of the season on a powerful backhand sweep that beat Luongo cleanly. The goal led to the first lead the Sharks had held in the last five periods against the Canucks, and was a huge momentum boost for San Jose.
That momentum was needed for San Jose, who had to kill multiple penalties, including a five on three opportunity for the Canucks spanning the second and third periods which the Sharks were able to burn off. However, Vancouver's league leading power play was finally able to break through later in the third.
With Ryane Clowe off the ice after taking a holding penalty, Cody Hodgson would convert on a wrist shot from Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa. That goal tied the game, and from there on out, it was a dogfight.
Both teams had their chances through the third and in overtime, but neither could manage to seal the deal. One chance missed by just a few split seconds, as McGinn hit Torrey Mitchell streaking into the zone. Mitchell buried the wrist shot past Luongo, but he did it a few ticks after time expired in the third.
Instead of the game being settled by normal means, the Canucks and Sharks headed to the shootout... an unfitting end to an otherwise exciting and even match between two elite teams.
As has been the norm this year, the Sharks played the role of the Earps in the shootout, defeating the Canucks in the third round on a beautiful roof shot from Michal Handzus.
Now trailing the season series to Vancouver 2-1, the Sharks must use this shot of adrenaline to the arm to head into Anaheim, a team which they have an 0-3 record against currently.