SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Speculation swirls around what San Jose might do before the trade deadline, but the Sharks are creating enough of a stir with their play on the ice.
Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist during a second-period scoring flurry and the Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Monday night for their fifth straight victory.
San Jose broke a scoreless tie with three goals in a span of 2:13 against Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider, then held on and completed a season sweep of Vancouver.
With Wednesday's trade deadline approaching, Sharks forward Ryane Clowe is rumored to be going to any number of teams. The fact he was a healthy scratch Monday certainly suggested a deal is looming.
Clowe's teammates extended San Jose's longest win streak since taking seven straight to open the season. They remain in the No. 6 playoff position in the Western Conference but trail Los Angeles by just one point for fifth and Vancouver by two points for fourth.
"We're trying to catch some teams now," Thornton said. "Winning feels pretty good. It's contagious and as long as we put a good effort, we feel like we can win every night."
Monday's victory didn't come easy, as the Canucks got a second-period goal from Chris Higgins and a third-period score from Alexandre Burrows to pull within one.
In an effort to spark its offense, Vancouver called up highly-touted winger Nicklas Jensen. The 20-year-old made his NHL debut and played on the top line alongside twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Winger Bill Sweatt also was called up from the AHL and played in just his third NHL game.
The Canucks finally kicked it into gear but it was too little, too late.
"You look at all the good teams and they are scoring three goals a game," Higgins said. "We can't expect to win scoring twice. We did a pretty good job of keeping them off the scoresheet for a while. We were looking for a spark in the first period and we didn't get it and then they score three quick goals."
The Sharks dominated the first period, outshooting Vancouver 14-6, but they couldn't convert a couple of prime opportunities.
Things changed quickly in the second period.
Andrew Desjardins beat Schneider from the left side at the 7:41 mark, and less than a minute later, Thornton outfought a Canucks player for a loose puck just inside the blue line and blasted a wrist shot that found the net for a 2-0 lead.
The Sharks then sent a sellout home crowd into hysterics with an electrifying sequence after a penalty to Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa. San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi made a terrific save on a short-handed breakaway opportunity for Jannik Hansen, and the Sharks immediately headed back the other way.
Patrick Marleau sent a pass to Logan Couture in front of the net, and Couture appeared to knock the puck into the net with his skate at 9:54. The play was reviewed but the goal was upheld, as it was ruled that Couture didn't intentionally kick the puck in.
"I had enough good chances before that," Couture said. "Patty passed it really hard, it went off my stick, off my left foot and I think maybe off my right foot."
Just like that, the Canucks were behind 3-0, and the Sharks' scoring blitz had to provide a bad case of déjà vu. On Saturday, the Canucks allowed four goals on the first five shots they allowed in a 4-0 loss to Edmonton.
"The first period was good. We did what we had to do to keep it tight," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "In the second period they jumped on a couple of bouncing pucks and put them into the back of the net."
NOTES: The Sharks activated G Thomas Greiss from injured reserve and he served as Niemi's backup. Alex Stalock was reassigned to Worcester. . With speculation swirling around Clowe, the Sharks pulled the trigger on another deal, sending C Michal Handzus to Chicago for a fourth-round pick in this season's draft. . D Matt Tennyson became the first product of the Junior Sharks youth program to appear in a game for San Jose. He spent part of his youth in Pleasanton, just a 30-minute drive from San Jose.