VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- With all the attention on San Jose's dominant top line, the Sharks got key contributions from lesser-known forwards to beat the Vancouver Canucks.
Dan Boyle scored the go-ahead goal on a power play 6:15 into the second period, and Evgeni Nabokov made 28 saves to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
Manny Malhotra scored on a breakaway with 2:35 left and Jamie McGinn made it 4-1 on a scramble in front 13 seconds later for San Jose. Frazer McLaren also scored his first NHL goal for the Sharks, who have won four of their last five games and lead the league with 40 points.
San Jose's top line of Thornton with Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley are all in the top-7 in NHL scoring after combining for nine goals and 23 points the previous four games, but was limited to Thornton's lone assist by the Canucks.
"In a tight game we believe we have four lines that can play and contribute every night," said Thornton, who extended his point streak to eight games, with three goals and 15 points. "Lately obviously our line has been doing a lot of the work, but we got guys that can score goals and change games on the second, third and fourth lines as well and you could see it tonight."
McLaren, a tough guy playing just his 10th NHL game, tied the game midway through the first period, going to the net to redirect Joe Pavelski's pass out of the corner. Malhotra broke open a tight game on a breakaway with 2:35 left and Jamie McGinn made it 4-1 on a scramble 13 seconds later for the Sharks, who have won four of their last five games and lead the league with 40 points.
"We know [our top line] is going to put the puck in the net and get the points and it's really good to see the other guys pinch in," said Evgeni Nabokov, who made 25 saves. "That's what we need, especially playing against a good team like this, that's where you need that balance."
Kyle Wellwood scored two minutes in and set up Jannik Hansen's meaningless goal with 6.3 seconds left in the game, and Roberto Luongo made 26 saves as the Canucks, playing a second straight night, lost for just the second time in six games.
After going 4-for-5 on the power play against the Oilers the night before to move up to second in the NHL, the Canucks failed to register even a shot in four chances against San Jose's top-ranked penalty kill unit.
"Obviously their penalty killing is real good, but our execution wasn't there and we weren't able to generate anything," said coach Alain Vigneault, taking little solace in slowing the top line. "Their other lines beat our guys and at the end of the day in one-on-one situations along the wall and in front of the net I thought they were grittier then our guys were and that's why we lost this game."
Boyle gave the Sharks the lead on the second of three straight power plays to start a second period dominated by San Jose. Luongo stopped Thornton's high shot from the left circle, but the rebound went right to Boyle on the other side and he snapped it in before the goalie could recover.
"To be honest it seemed like we had the puck in their end the entire second period," said Thornton after outshooting the Canucks 15-4 in the period.
Nabokov was at his busiest in the third, stopping the first 12 shots, including a skate save on Ryan Kesler's redirection in front with 7:16 left, before Hansen redirected Wellwood's shot from the top of the crease.
Wellwood, whose only other goal this season was into an empty net two games ago, opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 with a low shot past Nabokov's blocker.
"Give the credit to them. We tried to play our game but they were too good checking," said Wellwood. "They were on the pucks all night."
The Sharks sent rookies D Jason Demers, who had 13 points his first 27 NHL games, and C Benn Ferriero to Worcester of the AHL Saturday to make room for Blake and Setoguchi. San Jose was playing its league-high 18th road game of the season, but the Sharks play 21 of their next 28 games at home. Vancouver, which wrapped up a five-game homestand, starts a four-game, seven-day road trip in New Jersey on Tuesday. D Christian Ehrhoff played his first game against the Sharks since they traded him to Vancouver in September in late August, part of a salary dump that allowed San Jose to later acquire high-priced forward Dany Heatley in a trade with Ottawa.