Demko Records 30th Win, Canucks Defeat Sharks 4-2 To Stay In Wild Card Fight

(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent

VANCOUVER — Alex Chiasson had a goal and an assist for the Vancouver Canucks in a 4-2 win against the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena on Saturday.

Jason Dickinson and Conor Garland each ended long goal droughts, and Thatcher Demko made 35 saves for his 30th win of the season for the Canucks (35-28-10).

Vancouver has won three in a row to move four points behind the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

“Feels good to contribute to the success of the team, and we obviously know how important all these games are,” Chiasson said. “Just a gutsy effort, I thought.”

Chiasson gave Vancouver a 3-2 lead at 2:07 of the third period, scoring from the bottom of the left face-off circle after Bo Horvat‘s cross-ice pass bounced off a skate to him. Chiasson has six points (three goals, three assists) during a three-game point streak that coincides with moving up to the second line and top power play unit in place of injured forward Brock Boeser.

“It feels good at this time of the year to feel good about your game,” Chiasson said. “It’s a nice opportunity for myself to showcase what I can do.”

Luke Schenn scored shorthanded into an empty net with one second left for the 4-2 final.

Tomas Hertl scored his 28th goal of the season, and Kaapo Kahkonen made 35 saves for the Sharks (29-33-9), who have lost six straight (0-5-1).

“Guys are obviously a little bit down,” coach Bob Boughner said. “No one likes losing and it’s right there every night. It’s tough to find your way over that hump.”

Dickinson put Vancouver ahead 1-0 at 2:03 of the first period, keeping on a 2-on-1 and freezing Kahkonen with a fake shot before deking around him. It was the first goal in 21 games, dating to Jan. 11 for Dickinson, who had also missed 16 games since his last goal because of injuries.

“For a guy that hasn’t played a lot lately it was really good to see,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Hertl tied it 1-1 at 7:33 on a 5-on-3 power-play rebound from the top of the crease.

Garland made it 2-1 at 4:49 of the second period on a 2-on-1 by faking a pass before shooting short-side past Kahkonen’s blocker from inside the left face-off dot. It was Garland’s first goal since Feb. 24 (20 games).

“Anytime you can get balanced scoring or scoring from other ways — because our power play wasn’t very good tonight (0-for-7) — those are things that you find a way, that you haven’t done in a while,” Boudreau said. “It was good to see.”

Nick Bonino tied it 2-2 at 18:37 by deflecting a Brent Burns point shot in the high slot past a screened Demko for his third goal in the past four games. But the Sharks fell behind again early in the third.

“[Frustration] is high,” forward Logan Couture said. “It’s not fun. We’ve got to find a way out of it. We can’t just be okay with being in games. We got to find a way to win some hockey games. You’ve got to learn to win in this league.”

Demko made nine saves in the third period to become the first Canucks goalie since Roberto Luongo in 2011-12 to win 30 games in a season.

“It wasn’t a Picasso,” Boudreau said. “We didn’t play our best game, but we sort of grinded it out. Found a way and got great goaltending.”

NOTES: Each team dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen. San Jose defenseman Radim Simek played 7:38 in his first appearance in 16 games, splitting time between forward and defense. Canucks defenseman Brad Hunt played 7:09, skating as a forward at even strength but playing the point on the second power-play unit. … Canucks forward Tanner Pearson missed the game with an undisclosed injury sustained in a 5-1 win at the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but Boudreau said he is expected to skate on Sunday and is day to day. … Flames defenseman Quinn Hughes had two shots in 25:26 after missing two games with an illness. … San Jose forward Timo Meier had an assist and has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in the past 10 games. … The Canucks swept the season series 3-0-0.

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