Upbeat Canucks win third in a row by sinking Sharks 6-2

VANCOUVER — After a horrendous start to the season, the Vancouver Canucks are ending the year on a positive note.

Bo Horvat scored two goals and added a pair of assists as the Canucks defeated the San Jose Sharks 6-2 Tuesday night to extend their NHL winning streak to three games.

Things looked dark for the Canucks when they went winless in their first seven games (0-5-2) and more recently when they lost three straight games at Rogers Arena.

But after some early stumbles the Canucks (16-15-3) have found their legs. The team is 7-3 in the last 10 games and have more wins than losses for the first time this year.

“I feel like we’ve been playing the right way,” said Brock Boeser, who had a goal and two assists. “We’re kind of getting that swagger back.

“That’s a big part of our team. When we don’t have that swagger, sometimes (things) get kind of dead. We’ve just got to keep playing the right way."

Head coach Bruce Boudreau hesitated when asked about the Canucks' swagger.

“I don’t like that word,” he said. “I think the team is starting to believe in themselves a little bit and I think that’s important.”

Ilya Mikheyev also had a four-point night with a goal and three assists. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, with his first of the season, also scored.

Horvat is a big reason the Canucks have turned things around. The Vancouver captain leads the team with 26 goals in 34 games. He has 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in his last 10 games.

“It’s awesome,” Boeser said about Horvat. “It’s really fun to watch.”

It was the first four-point game in a Canuck uniform for the Russian-born Mikheyev who spent three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs before signing as a free agent with Vancouver this summer. He has 22 points, including 12 goals, in 31 games.

“He’s playing higher up in the lineup,” said Boudreau. “He never got a chance to be on the top six (in Toronto).

“He’s come in and slowly but surely, he’s getting better every game. He’s feeling a little bit more confident about his role. He certainly has got the talent to score goals.”

Timo Meier scored twice for the Sharks (11-19-6). San Jose is (1-2-1) in the last five games. Defenceman Erik Karlsson earned two assists for his 16th point (two goals, 14 assists) in his last 10 games.

Vancouver took control of the game with goals from Mikheyev and Hughes 1:40 apart in the second period. Horvat then sealed it by scoring on a breakaway in the third period.

San Jose coach David Quinn said his team was guilty of giveaways and defensive lapses.

“I thought we had chances to climb back in,” he said. “I don’t like what went on in our own end. We’ve got to fix that in practice and get back to playing good structural defence.”

It was the second time this season the Sharks gave up six goals against Vancouver.

“They’ve got skill,” said San Jose captain Logan Couture. “To give them six against isn’t a recipe for success.”

Vancouver goaltender Spencer Martin stopped 24 shots.

San Jose goalie James Reimer made 19 saves but remains one win short of 200 in his NHL career.

Hughes, whose 28 assists leaves him tied for third in the NHL, was relieved to score his first goal.

“It was something that was weighing on my mind the last couple of games,” he said. “Going into the season I thought I was going to be able to score more because of the things I worked on this summer.”

He admitted the season hasn’t been easy for anyone.

“It’s probably been the hardest season for a lot of guys in this room mentally,” he said. “To get above .500 and win three in a row means a lot to everyone here.

“We’ve just got to keep it going because we know it can change quickly. I think the way we’re playing now, we can keep stringing wins together.”

NOTES

Midfielder Julia Grosso, a Vancouver native who scored the winning penalty kick for the Canadian women’s soccer team at the 2020 Summer Olympics, was in the crowd for the game. … It’s just the third time this year Vancouver has won three consecutive games. … With his first goal Horvat became the third NHL player to reach the 25-goal mark this season, joining Connor McDavid and Tage Thompson. … Vancouver’s previous two wins over San Jose this season came in overtime. … Tomas Hertl returned to the Sharks lineup after serving a two-game suspension for high-sticking Calgary Flames centre Elias Lindholm on Dec. 18 … The Sharks wore their retro jerseys, modelled after the 1974-75 California Golden Seals, the Bay Area's previous professional hockey team.

UP NEXT

The Canucks go on the road for games against Winnipeg Thursday and Calgary Saturday before returning to Rogers Arena to face the New York Islanders on Jan. 3.

The Sharks return home for a game Thursday against Philadelphia then begin a three-game road trip with a game in Dallas on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2022.

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press