VANCOUVER – Mikael Samuelsson has had difficulty scoring this season, but he didn’t have to work very hard for a pair of goals Friday night.
Samuelsson was set up nicely on San Jose turnovers as the Vancouver Canucks posted a rare 6-1 victory over the Sharks.
The Swedish winger, who was demoted to the third line a game earlier following poor offensive production, iced the victory with his second goal of the night seven minutes into the third period as San Jose defenceman Dan Boyle inadvertently passed the puck to him in the slot.
“Obviously, it’s a good pass, but not to the right guy,” said Samuelsson.
The marker gave the Canucks a 4-1 lead, spoiling any hope of a San Jose comeback.
“We got a couple easy ones, but it was still a tight game until the third,” said Samuelsson.
Jeff Tambellini, Raffi Torres, Alex Burrows and Keith Ballard, with his first point as a Canuck, also scored for Vancouver.
Roberto Luongo made 32 saves for the Canucks, who improved to 12-7-3 as they posted their second straight victory after four consecutive losses.
“We were on a roll before and we got away from it,” said Samuelsson. “But I think, in some ways, we’re on the right track again.”
San Jose outshot the Canucks 33-32, with all goals coming at even strength as the clubs were blanked on one power play apiece.
Dany Heatley tallied for the Sharks (10-7-4), who suffered their fourth loss in five games.
It was only the Canucks’ third win over San Jose in four seasons. Vancouver has gone 3-9-1 against the Sharks in that time span. Four of Vancouver’s goals came on Shark turnovers.
“Most of the goals came off our tape,” said San Jose coach Todd McLellan. “It’s tough to win like that. It doesn’t matter how well you’re playing in other areas of the game, when we were basically the first or second assist on most of their goals. You have no chance.”
The score was tied 1-1 after the first period, but the Canucks led 3-1 after the second, despite being outshot 16-6 in the middle frame.
“I wouldn’t call it a one-sided game,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. “It was a hard-fought game. It seemed like, for the first 15 minutes of the first period we had the momentum, and then they had it the last five minutes.
“The first half of the second, we had the momentum and then they had it in the second half. Our goaltender made some big saves and then we got our fourth goal and, for whatever reason, they made a couple mistakes that we were able to capitalize on.”
Heatley created a 1-1 tie at 15:22 of the first as he was allowed to pick up the puck in the slot, skate patiently to one side of the net and fire a shot past Luongo. It was only San Jose’s fourth shot of the game, but Luongo made a number of timely saves in the final five minutes of the first with the Sharks pressing.
“It was a tough way to start but I still felt good,” said Luongo. “I felt I was sharp, I felt I was there and square and it just found a hole. But we just kind of refocused and got going. Obviously, that helped out. But, obviously, the 16 shots (against) in the second period, that helped out, too.”
Torres, with his first goal in 10 games, and Samuelsson scored 1:48 apart courtesy of turnovers early in the second period, putting the Canucks up 3-1 before Boyle’s giveaway in the third erased any further doubt.
Boyle said he intended to pass the puck to Joe Thornton, but the Sharks captain was not in the place that he expected him to be.
“Usually we’re on the same page 99 per cent of the time and obviously I’d like to have that one back,” said Boyle.
McLellan said he felt his club was still in the game until that point. Burrows and Ballard rounded out the scoring with goals just over two minutes apart. Ballard’s goal came on his 28th birthday.
“Considering nobody on the team bought me anything, it was nice to at least get a goal,” said Ballard.
Actually, he might have bought himself more time in the lineup after struggling to overcome off-season hip surgery and poor play. Friday’s contest was only his third game in the last 10.
“I’ve got other things to worry about than getting a point or a goal,” said Ballard. “It’s a nice little bonus, though.”
NOTES: Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa sat out with the flu, enabling Aaron Rome to draw into the lineup.…Ballard, struggling to overcome off-season hip surgery and poor play, suited up for only his third game in the last 10.…Sharks centre Scott Nichol did not play after taking a puck in the eye during the morning skate. … Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi left in the first period with an undisclosed injury. … Vancouver sent defenceman Ryan Parent to Manitoba of the AHL earlier Friday on a conditioning assignment.…San Jose rearguard Jason Demers was sidelined by an undisclosed upper-body injury sustained Wednesday against Chicago.…The Canucks have parted ways amicably with winger Peter Schaefer, 33, after he refused to report to Manitoba. He cleared waivers at Friday for the second time this week and the team released him outright.