Sharks 2, Hurricanes 1
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) _ Mike Vernon picked up his 324th career victory as the San Jose Sharks remained in the Western Conference playoff hunt with a 2-1 victory Saturday night over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Both teams came into the game five points out of postseason contention in their respective conferences. But after winning a season-high four straight games on a recent West Coast road trip, Carolina dropped its second straight at home in the last three days.
Meanwhile, Vernon, 11th on the NHL career victory list, was sharp from the start. He stopped 14 of 15 Carolina shots in the first period, then 14 the rest of the way _ including a breakaway by Keith Primeau with 11 minutes left.
The former Detroit Red Wing has now given up three goals or less in 26 of his last 31 games.
The Sharks, with only three power-play goals in their last 43 chances, took the lead for good at 2-1 early in the second period with the man advantage.
Defenseman Bill Houlder received a perfect pass in the slot from leading scorer Jeff Friesen and hit the right post with his one-timer, the puck falling behind Trevor Kidd.
The goal snapped an 11-game pointless streak for Houlder, and San Jose improved to 20-0-2 when leading after two periods.
The Hurricanes broke an 0-for-19 power-play slump 3:20 into the game when Robert Kron pounced on a rebound in the crease. He lifted the puck high over Vernon’s left shoulder for his 15th goal.
The Sharks tied the score five minutes later, when Carolina defenseman Sean Hill misplayed the puck at his blue line. Owen Nolan picked up the loose puck, walked right down the slot and beat Kidd for an unassisted goal, his 11th of the season.