SAN JOSE, California — Ryan Miller withstood an early barrage and last-second flurry to carry Vancouver to a big win in San Jose.
Miller made 34 saves and was on the right side of a replay review that determined a potential tying goal for the Sharks came an instant too late, giving the Canucks a 3-2 win Thursday night to open their California swing.
"I got fortunate that we ran out of time to play and it worked out in our favor," Miller said.
With the goalie pulled, San Jose pushed furiously for a tying goal and appeared to get it when Tommy Wingels' pass deflected off a defenseman and right to Joe Thornton by the side of the net. Thornton's shot hit off Miller's blocker and trickled over the goal line, sending the crowd into a tizzy.
But a replay review showed the puck crossed the goal line just after the clock expired, giving the Canucks the win.
"I was hopeful, because I heard the horn when I knew the puck was over there," Miller said. "I just didn't know how close."
Radim Vrbata, Alex Edler and Nick Bonino scored for the Canucks, who now head to Southern California for weekend games against Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Vancouver won just two of 14 games last season against the three California teams, playing a big role in the Canucks missing the playoffs in their first season in the new Pacific Division.
James Sheppard and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks, who controlled the play but still lost in their final game before a grueling trip of seven road games in 11 days. Antti Niemi made 16 saves.
"It was frustrating at times," forward Joe Pavelski said. "You get one at the end and just run out of time. We had our chances and we just didn't execute. We didn't finish on them."
Miller was tested early with San Jose getting four scoring chances in the opening minutes. He then stood tall again late, making a good save on Couture shortly before Thornton's final shot.
"The puck went in, it just happened a little late," Thornton said. "We threw everything at them but couldn't get it in. It was so close, I couldn't tell. If only we have another half-second we'd be all right. We feel like we let this one get away from us."
The Canucks fell behind 2-1 midway through the second when Couture capped a pretty passing sequence on the power play with his team-leading seventh goal.
Vancouver then scored twice in a span of less than 5 minutes to take the lead into the third. The equalizer came when Edler beat Niemi with a shot from the top of the circle for a power-play goal.
The Canucks then took advantage of a break that came when Tomas Hertl broke his stick attempting a one-timer. That turnover keyed a rush by Alexandre Burrows, who carried the puck into the offensive zone before finding Bonino.
Bonino skated around the stickless Hertl and beat Niemi for his team-leading seventh goal to give the Canucks a 3-2 lead.
"It proves our resiliency," Bonino said. "We come in and play probably two of our worst periods of the year but we had Millsy back there shutting the door and keeping us in the game."
The Sharks scored first for the 10th time in 14 games this season when the newly formed third line struck midway through the first period. Tyler Kennedy, making his season debut after being sidelined by an upper-body injury in training camp, kept the puck in near the blue line and fed Hertl, who found Sheppard for the goal.
But San Jose gave that lead back when Thornton couldn't keep a puck in the offensive zone along the boards. That led to a 2-on-1 break and Vrbata beat Niemi with 7.7 seconds to play.
NOTES: Burrows returned from a three-game suspension for a hit to the head of Montreal D Alexei Emelin. ... Canucks F Zack Kassian was scratched with a lower-body injury. ... Rookie F Chris Tierney was sent back to the minors to make room for Kennedy.
All content copyright ©2014 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.