San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) is congratulated by defenceman Dan Boyle (22) after scoring past the Vancouver Canucks in the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Paul Sakuma
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Devin Setoguchi remembered the road-weary wobble in his legs last week when the San Jose Sharks couldn't keep up in a shutout loss at Detroit.
Setoguchi could tell the Canucks were in much the same condition Tuesday night, and the high-scoring forward was happy to see the Sharks do to Vancouver exactly what the Red Wings did to them.
Captain Patrick Marleau had a goal and two assists during the Sharks' five-goal barrage in the first 21 minutes, and Evgeni Nabokov made 33 saves to keep San Jose unbeaten in regulation at home this season with a 5-0 victory.
"It's so good to go into the break with a good feeling, so we can get a little rest," Setoguchi said after San Jose's biggest shutout win of the season.
With three days of rest to prepare for the NHL's final game before the two-day holiday break, the Sharks were far more than Vancouver could handle in its third game in four days, particularly after a long flight from British Columbia last night.
Setoguchi and Joe Thornton each had a goal and an assist while the Sharks tormented goalie Cory Schneider, who gave up three goals in the first 7:09 and two more in the opening minute of the second period before getting yanked. The overall NHL leaders are accustomed to big periods, but their start against Vancouver ranked among their most impressive.
"It's kind of hard to come back from a 3-0 deficit when it's bing-bang-boom, right off the start," Setoguchi said. "We knew what they were feeling like, and we put it right on them from the start. You look over at their bench and they've got long faces and they're holding their heads down, and that's what you want."
Rob Blake and Tomas Plihal also had goals as the Sharks improved to 27-4-3 while setting a franchise record for the quickest five goals to open a game. Nabokov then earned his second shutout and league-leading 19th victory with 29 saves in the final two periods.
"We knew they had a tough game last night, and one of the things we wanted to do was establish our game early," said Marleau, who has 24 points in his last 18 games. "Everybody is looking for that perfect game, and I think we can do a little better job pushing for that next one, but I think we're happy."
Dan Boyle had two assists to increase his NHL scoring lead among defencemen for the Sharks, who have played nearly half their home schedule without losing in regulation (18-0-2). San Jose has earned at least one point in 29 straight games at the Shark Tank dating back to Feb. 14.
Curtis Sanford stopped 16 shots in relief for Vancouver, which fell out of the Northwest Division lead with its fifth straight loss to the Sharks, coupled with Calgary's 4-3 win over Anaheim. After grinding out a win over the Ducks in Vancouver on Monday night, the Canucks had little left for San Jose.
"I don't think that's really an excuse for us," Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. "We had a tough start to the game. They came out flying, like we knew they would. They're obviously a good team at home, and we put ourselves in a bad position right away with the penalties. They made us pay."
The Ducks' loss also allowed San Jose to open a gaping 18-point lead over second-place Anaheim in the Pacific Division standings. But with just one of their next seven games at home, the Sharks will face more challenges than Vancouver could muster in the Canucks' only game away from home in an eight-game stretch.
"I don't know if you can forget about it," Bieksa said. "It definitely puts a damper over the holidays. It's not like losing a game by one goal. It's embarrassing to all of us, and something that will stick with us over the holidays."
Blake got San Jose's first score just 4:22 in, banging home a rebound of Jonathan Cheechoo's shot for the sixth goal and 24th point of the 39-year-old's debut season in San Jose. Marleau added a power-play goal 93 seconds later, circling the net and firing a slick shot over Schneider's shoulder.
Setoguchi then redirected Marleau's shot for his 17th goal, putting San Jose up 3-0. Vancouver survived two stretches of 5-on-3 play shortly afterward, but Thornton and Plihal scored in the first 43 seconds of the second on horrendous mistakes by Schneider's teammates.
"It's my job, not having played last night, to be ready from the get-go," Schneider said. "I've got to keep us in the game until we get our rhythm going, and unfortunately I didn't do that."
Notes: Sharks LW Milan Michalek missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Vancouver D Rob Davison and RW Steve Bernier played their first games against San Jose since leaving the club. Bernier was traded to Buffalo last season for D Brian Campbell. ... San Jose already broke a 16-year-old club record for the fastest five goals to start a game earlier this season, doing it in 21:18 on Nov. 3 against Calgary.