VANCOUER — Evander Kane scored twice, leading the San Jose Sharks to a 7-2 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
The victory moves San Jose (34-16-7) into first place in the Western Conference and extends its win streak to six games.
Timo Meier, Melker Karlsson, Tomas Hertl, Kevin Lebanc and Joe Pavelski also scored for the Sharks.
Bo Horvat and Derrick Pouliot answered for Vancouver (25-25-7).
Martin Jones put up 25 saves for the Sharks and Mike DiPietro stopped 17-of-24 shots for the Canucks in his NHL debut.
The 19-year-old native of Amherstburg, Ont., was called up from the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s on an emergency basis last week after Canucks backup Thatcher Demko was sidelined with a knee sprain.
“A dream come true getting the start. You never want to let in the first shot, but I felt better as the game went on. There are lessons I’ll take from this and work on to end this season and throughout the summer.” – DiPietro
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 12, 2019
Jacob Markstrom, the team’s starting netminder, was slated to start on Monday but was scratched as a precaution due to tightness in his lower body.
DiPietro struggled early, letting in the first shot of the game after Canucks defenceman Erik Gudbranson failed to corral the puck behind the net.
Logan Couture collected the rubber and dished it to Meier, who fired it in past the young Vancouver goalie 1:04 into the first period.
The Sharks added another marker just minutes later, thanks to a high shot from Kane. Vancouver defenceman Ben Hutton attempted to punch the puck out of the air in front of the net, but instead sent it in off of DiPietro.
When Karlsson added San Jose’s third goal 8:48 into the opening frame, the Canucks had yet to register a single shot.
Despite an atrocious start, Vancouver seemed to find their way late in the first, hemming the Sharks in their own end.
With just seconds left on the clock, star rookie Elias Pettersson waited patiently for his opportunity to slice a pass to Horvat down low. The centre hammered a snapshot past Jones to put the Canucks on the board.
Vancouver out shot San Jose 13-5 in the second period, but the Sharks continued to bury the Canucks, adding goals from Kane, Hertl and Lebanc.
Lebanc’s tally came from a two-on-one where Joe Thornton drew DiPietro across the crease before dishing off to the right-winger.
The helper was the 1,050th of Thornton’s career. He passed Gordie Howe for ninth place on the league’s all-time assists list.
It was also the 39-year-old centre’s 1,457th NHL point, tying Teemu Selanne for 15th place in the all-time points race.
Vancouver’s second goal came from Pouliot 12:06 into the third, but it was Zack MacEwen who will keep the puck after assisting on the play.
It was the 22-year-old’s first NHL point and came in his league debut. The Charlottetown native was called up from the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets on Sunday.
Pavelski added the final goal of the game less than two minutes later.
The Canucks will be back in action on Wednesday, kicking off a three-game California road swing with a visit to the Anaheim Ducks.
The Sharks host the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
NOTES: Vancouver has placed centre Brandon Sutter on injured reserve with a lower body injury. … Pavelski registered a helper on Meier’s goal, marking his 400th NHL assist. … San Jose defenceman Erik Karlsson missed Monday’s game with a lower-body injury.
THE CANADIAN PRESS