Vancouver, BC – Dan Boyle scored the game winner in the third period as the San Jose Sharks took a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Logan Couture added a goal and an assist, Patrick Marleau scored and Joe Pavelski gave two helpers for the sixth-seeded Sharks, who are in the playoffs for a ninth straight season, but are still looking for their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Antti Niemi made 29 saves for San Jose, which was defeated in five games in the opening round last season by St. Louis.
"We played a really compact D zone; we didn't give too much," Niemi said. "We were able to keep them out of the front."
Kevin Bieksa scored the lone goal of the game for the Canucks, who are in the playoffs as the third seed after winning the Northwest Division for a fifth straight season.
Vancouver lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round last season.
Roberto Luongo got the start in net and allowed all three goals on 28 shots. He spent much of the season as the backup to Cory Schneider, who is back in the lineup after an undisclosed injury kept him sidelined for the final two games of the regular season.
Game 2 of this best-of-seven series is set for Friday night in Vancouver.
With the score tied in the third, good work down low in the Vancouver end saw Pavelski take it around the left boards and throw a backhand on net. The puck eventually came to the right side and Boyle snapped it home for a 2-1 lead at the 9:17 mark.
Marleau gave his team some room with 5:23 to play as he took a Couture pass in the slot and put it home for a 3-1 advantage, and Niemi made the lead hold up by making a nice stop on a Jason Garrison shot two minutes later.
Vancouver got Luongo out of the net in the final 1 1/2 minutes and got some shots on net, but Niemi made the saves to help San Jose earn the series lead.
"It's not like we got shelled in the third," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "That being said, the only goal we scored they pushed into their net. We have to be better."
The first period passed without a goal and the first half of the second period did likewise, but the Canucks grabbed the first goal of the contest to take the lead.
Bieksa let fly with a shot from the right wing that was stopped, but the puck sat on the doorstep. With a jam in front of the net and several players getting their sticks on it, the puck eventually found its way in and Bieksa was credited with the goal at 12:26.
The Sharks, though, tied the game four minutes later while on the power play. With Zack Kassian in the box for roughing, the Sharks worked the puck around the perimeter with Boyle sending the disc from the right circle to the slot where Couture wristed it home.
The only other time these two clubs met in the playoffs was in 2011, when the Canucks downed the Sharks in five games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals ... San Jose won all three matchups in the regular season against Vancouver ... Sharks forward Martin Havlat left the game midway through the first period with an undisclosed injury ... San Jose went 1-for-4 on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-2.