Nieto has 2 goals and assist as Sharks beat Canucks 6-2
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Matt Nieto and the San Jose Sharks are finding their stride in a tangled playoff race.
Nieto had two goals and an assist to lead the Sharks to a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson, Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored for San Jose, which was coming off a 4-0 win Monday against Montreal. Before that, the Sharks had lost eight straight at home.
''We know how to win and these last two games, we've had that killer instinct that we've been lacking,'' Nieto said.
Antti Niemi made 26 saves to help San Jose stay tied for third place in the Pacific Division with Los Angeles and Calgary after both of those teams also won Tuesday night.
Henrik Sedin had two goals for second-place Vancouver, which is three points ahead of the trio in third.
The Sharks have won seven in a row in Vancouver, including the postseason.
''We know everyone has to hold themselves accountable, and the past two games we've done that,'' Nieto said. ''And we have to keep doing that. Every game is important. Hopefully they keep going in.''
Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom had a rough return to the NHL. He allowed three goals on four shots before getting yanked in the first period.
Markstrom made his season debut, with starter Ryan Miller injured and backup Eddie Lack resting after giving up a combined 10 goals over his last two games.
Canucks coach Willie Desjardins liked his team's start despite the three quick goals by San Jose.
''I'm real disappointed with the results, but as a group I thought the team was ready,'' Desjardins said. ''Things just didn't go our way tonight.''
On the Sharks' first shot just more than three minutes in, Tierney recovered a Canucks turnover in the Vancouver zone and fired the puck over Markstrom's shoulder.
Karlsson scored on San Jose's second shot of the game when he backhanded the puck in while on his stomach during a goal-mouth scramble at 7:18.
Couture, on a give-and-go with Nieto, put in a rebound 27 seconds later to end Markstrom's night and bring in Lack, who finished with 23 saves on 24 shots.
''I think a game like that, for him, you just have to forget about it,'' Desjardins said about Markstrom. ''You get off to the wrong start and everything goes bad, so it's just a game you have to forget about. I think he's got lots of good hockey ahead of him.''
The Canucks got on the board just a minute into the second while on the power play. Daniel Sedin backhanded a pass to twin brother Henrik Sedin, who scored his 14th goal of the season. It was his 900th career NHL point.
The Sedins connected again at 9:12 of the second as Daniel found Henrik with a beautiful pass and the Vancouver captain converted his second of the game to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Sharks restored the two-goal advantage at 11:45 when Patrick Marleau stripped Daniel Sedin of the puck and dished to the slot, where Nieto rocketed a shot past Lack.
Vancouver finished the period with an extended 5-on-3 advantage, but couldn't capitalize.
''The 5-on-3, we had a couple great looks and just couldn't get it past Niemi,'' Henrik Sedin said. ''That was the difference.''
Nieto and Vlasic each scored an empty-net goal in the final 3 minutes to seal the win.
NOTES: Zack Kassian did not dress because of the flu. ... Injured NBA star Steve Nash dropped the ceremonial puck.