SAN JOSE – San Jose took care of the first half of the Pacific Division weekend by topping the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 at SAP Center Saturday night.
The victory enabled the Sharks to gain third place in the packed division standings with 18 points, trailing only Los Angeles (24) and the Vegas Golden Knights (21).
The second portion of the doublebill is Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Kings. After that showdown, the Sharks come home for three games beginning Thursday against the Florida Panthers.
While San Jose goaltender Aaron Dell kept the Canucks off the scoresheet by making 41 saves for his second career shutout, Thomas Hertl, one day short of his 24th birthday, ignited the Sharks offense with a goal and an assist.
The Sharks claimed a 1-0 lead after 48 seconds of play. The home team starters parlayed crisp passing and a key positioning at the top of the Canucks blue ice to solve goaltender Jacob Markstrom. The 27-year-old netminder entered his 123rd NHL game without a shutout and Hertl’s goal kept Markstrom’s shutout record empty.
Logan Couture, although not on the scoresheet in the first period, ignited the San Jose scoring play when he chased down a Canuck winger inside the Vancouver zone and dished the puck to Melker Karlsson. Defenseman Justin Braun stroked a shot from the right point as Hertl moved in front of Markstrom. The positioning left Hertl able to redirect the puck by Markstrom and inside the right post to make it 1-0.
The Hertl-Couture tandem worked again in the second period for a 2-0 cushion.
San Jose’s Joel Ward went to the penalty box for slashing 15:30 into the season at 15:59 on Couture’s team-leading ninth goal. Vancouver had set up in the San Jose zone before Hertl was able to stick the puck away from Canuck action near the blueline. Couture was ready to take in Hertl’s offering and skate behind the defense with a backhander between Markstrom’s legs to make it 2-0.
Dell’s effectiveness led to the Canucks pulling the goaltender with 1:50 left in the third period. The Sharks went ahead 3-0 when Couture skated past the Vancouver defense to snap an empty-net goal from the redline for his 10th goal.
After Timo Meier left San Jose shorthanded by earning a five-minute elbowing penalty, the Sharks completed the scoring with two Chris Tierney goals within a span of 26 seconds. Tierney’s short-hander made it 4-0 and the forward added a penalty-shot goal to finish the scoring.