Final OT

Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Monday, January 5th
Sharks2Final
Canucks1
Game 2: Thursday, January 15th
Canucks1Final
Sharks3
Game 3: Thursday, February 26th
Sharks2Final
OT
Canucks3
Game 4: Friday, April 2nd
Canucks4Final
Sharks1

Sharks 2

(30-16-6, 77 pts)

Canucks 3

(34-19-4, 79 pts)

10:00 PM ET, February 26, 2004

Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

1 2 3 OT T
SJ 1 0 1 02
VAN 0 1 1 13

M. Ohlund (Canucks - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Sturm (Sharks - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

B. Sopel (Canucks - D): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

Sobel scores twice on power play

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Brent Sopel made up for his early mistakes.

After getting burned in his end on both San Jose goals, Sopel scored his second power-play goal of the game 2:14 into overtime. That lifted the Canucks to a 3-2 comeback win over the Sharks on Thursday night.

"There's not much that can be done, I just have to refocus myself," said Sopel, who was beaten wide when Marco Sturm gave San Jose a 2-1 lead 4:42 into the third period. "Whatever is left in the game I've just got to play hard."

Sopel scored the winner -- his eighth of the season -- after San Jose was whistled for too many men on the ice 35 seconds into overtime. Vesa Toskala stopped Markus Naslund's shot from the low left circle, but the puck bounced straight to Sopel on the other side, leaving him with an unguarded net.

"Just a yawning cage," said Sopel, who also scored with a one-timer from the top of the right circle midway through the second period, and assisted on Mattias Ohlund's tying goal with 3:06 left in regulation.

On the tying goal, Artem Chubarov won a faceoff in the San Jose end back to Sopel, whose long shot rebounded out to the right circle. Ohlund pounced on it and wired a perfect slap shot past a screened Toskala and into the top corner.

"It was a very timely goal to tie it up," Canucks captain Markus Naslund said after getting an assist in his first game back since suffering a concussion 10 days earlier.

"I think my timing might be off a little bit and I think that's natural when you've been down for that period of time," Naslund said. "But we got the win and I think that's all that matters."

The victory was Vancouver's first over the Sharks in three games this season and just the third time in 11 meetings over the last three years. It was also the first time since Jan. 31 the Canucks won consecutive games, and it moved them within two points of Northwest Division-leading Colorado.

"It's huge," Sopel said of the win. "We've struggled lately putting games together. It's a good confidence builder. Nobody can keep up with us when we're at the top of our game."

Sturm's 20th goal gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead early in the third period. But San Jose couldn't hold on, losing for just the second time in six games.

The Sharks were happy to pick up a point to move six points ahead of Dallas atop the Pacific Division. But they were upset about giving away a point late in the third period, then losing it for good on an overtime penalty call.

"You never like to see a game end like that, but I guess there's not much we can do about it now, bad call or not," said Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart.

Scott Thornton also scored and Toskala made 33 saves for the Sharks, who lost center Mike Ricci and defenseman Kyle McLaren to injuries in the first period. Neither player returned.

"It's too bad we didn't come out with two points," said Sharks coach Ron Wilson. "But we had a real short bench when you miss a defenseman as good as Kyle and obviously the importance of Mike Ricci to our lineup."

McLaren was hit in the face with the puck after a hard slap shot by Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo deflected off the glove of Sharks forward Scott Parker. The rising puck caught McLaren in front of his own net. He collapsed immediately to the ice bleeding and left with trainers holding a towel over what was announced as a head laceration.

Ricci was taken hard into the sideboards by Canucks winger Jarkko Ruutu 5:32 into the game, and collapsed immediately to the ice. After being attended to by a team trainer, Ricci went straight to the locker room holding his right shoulder.

Wilson didn't have an update on Ricci, but said McLaren's injury wasn t as bad as it first looked.

"The puck went off his helmet and caused the cut," Wilson said. "He just got a CAT scan, but I don t think it's anything major. He was in here laughing. He s got a huge lump and probably a 10-stitch cut, so he's split wide open."

^Notes: Dan Cloutier finished with 19 saves for Vancouver. Vancouver moved two points ahead of San Jose, but remains fourth in the Western Conference because the Sharks are leading the Pacific. ... San Jose has outscored its opposition 64-25 in the first period this season. ... Canucks RW Matt Cooke returned after serving a two-game suspension for spearing Minnesota's Matt Johnson during a Feb. 19 game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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