San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton set up a pair of goals in his last encounter versus the Vancouver Canucks to move past Mario Lemieux on the NHL's all-time assists list. Thornton looks to elevate his name on that list once again as the 39-year-old finds himself tied with another Hall of Famer in Gordie Howe for ninth place as the Sharks conclude a four-game road trip against the Canucks on Monday.
Thornton set up the first and third goals in linemate Kevin Labanc's first career hat trick on Saturday as San Jose won its fifth straight and 12th in 15 outings with a 5-2 victory over Edmonton. Evander Kane scored his eighth goal in eight games and 13th since Jan. 1 while fellow forward Tomas Hertl matched his two-point performance versus the Oilers to give him 10 (six goals, four assists) in his past five contests. The Sharks reside one point behind Pacific Division-leading Calgary after Vancouver snapped a three-game skid with Saturday's 4-3 shootout win over the Flames. "Points are going to be hard to come by. We've got to battle hard for 65-plus minutes, and we did (Saturday)," said Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who turned aside 44 shots and thwarted all three attempts in the shootout.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBCS California (San Jose), Sportsnet Pacific (Vancouver)
ABOUT THE SHARKS (33-16-7): Labanc, who has four goals and two assists in his last four games overall, matched Thornton with two assists as San Jose improved to 10-0-1 in its last 11 meetings with Vancouver following a 4-0 romp on Nov. 23. "I think playing with Joe Thornton helps," coach Peter DeBoer told reporters of the 23-year-old Labanc. "You can never underestimate the importance of a guy like that with you and talking to you all the time." Defenseman Erik Karlsson, who scored a goal and set up two others in the first meeting with the Canucks, has been sidelined with an illness since the All-Star Game.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (25-24-7): Celebrated rookie Elias Pettersson had a pair of assists against the Flames before netting the winner in the shootout, giving him two tallies and three assists in five games since the All-Star break. The 20-year-old Swede, who leads the team in goals (25), assists (25) and points (50), is 10 points shy of the franchise rookie record shared by Pavel Bure and Ivan Hlinka. Brock Boeser has moved within earshot of Pettersson's team-leading totals, collecting five goals and five assists in his last 10 games to give him 19 of each.
1. Markstrom owns a 2-4-1 mark with a 3.74 goals-against average and .882 save percentage in seven career encounters with San Jose.
2. Sharks captain F Joe Pavelski is one assist shy of 400 for his career.
3. The Canucks reached out to Utica of the American Hockey League and recalled C Zack MacEwen, who has 17 goals and 42 points with the Comets.
PREDICTION: Sharks 5, Canucks 3 Bet Now
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