The San Jose Sharks relied on some veteran composure to score the tying goal in the last minute of the third period, then beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in overtime Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in their NHL Western Conference quarter-final series.
"We're a bunch of veterans," said Sharks' captain Joe Thornton. "All of us have played in so many playoff games, the calmness is scary sometimes.
"Everybody felt good."
With goaltender Antti Niemi on the bench for an extra attacker, Patrick Marleau tied the game with 56 seconds left in the third. Raffi Torres, a former Canuck, then won it at 5:31 of overtime.
Torres took a pass from defenceman Brent Burns on a 2-on-1 breakaway and roofed a shot past Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo.
"I didn't see it go in or anything like that," Torres said about the winning goal. "I just made sure my stick was on the ice and I got some good wood on it. It worked out well."
It's the first time in Sharks' history the team has won the opening two games of a playoff series on the road. The next two games of the best-of-seven series will be held Sunday and Tuesday in San Jose, where the Sharks were 17-2-5 during the regular season.
The Sharks came to Vancouver hoping for a split. Heading home with a 2-0 series lead is like an extra topping of whipped cream on a sundae. San Jose won Wednesday's opening game 3-1.
"It's huge," said Thornton. "You have to come in here and try to get one (victory). Now we have two. It's a huge effort and a huge win."
San Jose coach Todd McLellan warned the job is only half done.
"We have to elevate our game if we're going to have success," he said. "It's only big if we take advantage of it.
"We're going home, and our next game is the most important. We've got two. We can't be happy with two. We've got to shoot for three now."
Torres said the Canucks won't go down without a fight.
"This series is far from over," he said. "The (need to) focus on that and try and get the mindset we are down two and keep pushing.
"You know they are going to show up ready to go."
Torres was a member of the Vancouver team that lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins. That summer he left the Canucks and signed as a free agent with Phoenix.
The Sharks acquired Torres at this year's trade deadline for a third-round draft pick. The Canucks were also in the market for Torres, hoping to add his grit for the playoffs.
Torres said scoring the winning goal against his old team was nothing personal.
"You have to put the past behind you," he said. "If I worried about the past, I think I would be non-effective out there.
"I'm sure those guys look at it the same way. It's a man's game out there. Everybody is playing hard. You can't worry about friends out there."
Thornton scored San Jose's other goal. Ryan Kesler scored twice for Vancouver.Suggest a correction