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Vancouver Canucks defenceman Sami Salo (6), of Finland, is congratulated by centre Manny Malhotra, right, after scoring against the San Jose Sharks in the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, March 10, 2011. (Paul Sakuma)
Vancouver Canucks defenceman Sami Salo (6), of Finland, is congratulated by centre Manny Malhotra, right, after scoring against the San Jose Sharks in the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, March 10, 2011. (Paul Sakuma)

Canucks road to success continues Add to ...

It was easily the most difficult game of Cory Schneider's young NHL career, and it could have been his best.

Even if he allowed four goals.

"It was tough, but sometimes you like those games where you're busy and seeing the puck and making big saves," Schneider said. "Anytime you give up four goals, it's not your best game, I don't think,

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Think again, Cory.

The Canucks backup goaltender, making his 18th start this season in place of Roberto Luongo, was spectacular Thursday. He made 44 saves in a 5-4 shootout victory over the San Jose Sharks, and minus his efforts, the home team may have put a 10-spot on the scoreboard.

Vancouver won for a fourth consecutive time and can now finish with a perfect road trip should it beat the Flames in Calgary Saturday. That contest marks the renewal of a Canadian rivalry between Northwest Division foes, but it can't possibly match the quality seen at the HP Pavilion.

That's because regular season games are almost never this entertaining, and it left you panting for a Canucks-Sharks playoff series later this spring.

"I think it would be a heck of a series," Schneider said. "I'm sure tonight was a preview of what it could be like."

The game was so good that many in the 17,562 in attendance rose from their feet and gave both sides an ovation late in the third period.

That was before Torrey Mitchell skated through four Canucks and scored a game-tying goal with two minutes and 13 seconds remaining, and after several minutes of Sharks pressure and deafening noise.

It was also before Daniel Sedin scored a power-play goal just 24 seconds later, a tally that looked as though it would be the winner.

But with 20.3 seconds remaining, Ryane Clowe scored his second goal of the evening with Alex Burrows in the penalty box for a silly holding-the-stick penalty -- his eyes apparently too wide because of the empty net -- to force overtime.

Burrows redeemed himself as the only goal-scorer in the shootout, as Schneider turned away Clowe, Kyle Wellwood and Joe Pavelski in order.

The Canucks had a 2-0 lead after one period on goals by Burrows and Sami Salo. The Sharks stormed back with two quick ones early in the second, when Schneider had not yet caught the feel of the game. Mason Raymond scored before the middle period was over, to hand the visitors a 3-2 advantage heading into the final 20 minutes.

That's when the fireworks started.

"It was a helluva hockey game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Both teams played extremely well."

San Jose outshot Vancouver 9-0 in overtime, and had 42 shots on goal in the final 45 minutes. The Sharks went 1-for-7 on the power play, while the Canucks were 2-for-6.

Henrik Sedin had two assists, matching his brother's point total on the night. Clowe, Joe Thornton and Ian White also had two-point games.

"We gave up a lot of odd-numbered chances and they did too," Henrik Sedin. "It wasn't one for the coaches, that's for sure."



Follow on Twitter: @mattsekeres

 

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