VANCOUVER - Matt Nieto and the San Jose Sharks are finding their stride just when they need to most.
Nieto had two goals and an assist as the Sharks won their second straight, 6-2 over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, to keep pace in the tight Pacific Division.
"We know everyone has to hold themselves accountable, and the past two games we've done that," said Nieto. "And we have to keep doing that. Every game is important. Hopefully they keep going in."
Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson, Logan Couture, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored for San Jose (32-25-8), which remained tied for third in the Pacific with L.A. and Calgary after both those teams also won Tuesday night.
San Jose was coming off a 4-0 shut out against Montreal on Monday, but prior to that it had lost eight straight at home and was in danger of missing a playoff berth.
"We know how to win and these last two games, we've had that killer instinct that we've been lacking," said Nieto.
Henrik Sedin had both goals for Vancouver, which despite the loss still sits second in the Pacific at 36-24-3.
Goalie Jacob Markstrom, making his season debut with starter Ryan Miller injured and backup Eddie Lack resting after giving up a combined 10 goals over his last two games, had a rough NHL re-entry. Markstrom allowed three goals on four shots before getting yanked in the first.
Canucks coach Vancouver head coach Willie Desjardins liked his team's start despite the three quick goals against.
"I'm real disappointed with the results, but as a group I thought the team was ready," said Desjardins. "Things just didn't go our way tonight."
On the Sharks' first shot, just over three minutes in, Tierney recovered a Canucks turnover in the Vancouver zone and fired it over Markstrom's shoulder.
Karlsson scored on San Jose's second shot of the game when he backhanded in the puck while on his stomach during a goal-mouth scramble at 7:18.
Couture, on a give-and-go with Nieto, put in a rebound 27 seconds later to end Markstrom's night and bring in Lack, who finished with 23 saves on 24 shots.
"I think a game like that, for him, you just have to forget about it," said Desjardins. "You get off to the wrong start and everything goes bad, so it's just a game you have to forget about. I think he's got lots of good hockey ahead of him."
The Canucks got on the board just a minute into the second, while on the power play, as Daniel Sedin backhanded a pass to brother Henrik Sedin, who potted his 14th of the year and 900th career NHL point.
The Sedins connected again at 9:12 of the second as Daniel found Henrik with a beautiful pass and the Vancouver captain buried his second of the game to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Sharks restored the two-goal advantage at 11:45, as Patrick Marleau stripped Daniel Sedin and dished to the slot where Nieto rocketed the puck past Lack.
Vancouver finished the period with an extended 5-on-3 man advantage, but couldn't capitalize as Antti Niemi, who finished with 26 saves, shut the door.
"The 5-on-3, we had a couple great looks and just couldn't get it past Niemi," said Henrik Sedin. "That was the difference."
Nieto and Vlasic both scored empty-net goals in the final three minutes to seal the win.
Notes: Zack Kassian did not dress because of the flu. ... Victoria-raised NBAer Steve Nash dropped the ceremonial puck.