SAN JOSE, Calif. — The decision to add Erik Karlsson to an already formidable San Jose Sharks lineup during the offseason looked like a questionable move when the two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman got off to a humdrum start.
With the 28-year-old starting to hit his stride, the deal now seems to be paying off.
Karlsson had a goal and two assists, Joe Thornton surpassed a big milestone for the second time this month, and the Sharks beat the slumping Vancouver Canucks 4-0 on Friday night.
Thornton had two assists, moving him past Mario Lemieux for 11th place on the NHL list. The 39-year-old center scored his 400th goal on Nov. 13.
Karlsson has two goals and six assists in his last five games. He had just seven assists through his first 18 games.
"It's going to get better and better," Karlsson said. "We're going to start figuring things out out there and get to know each other a little bit more. It's going to take some time. It's a work in progress and it's a long year. There's been no panic in anyone, and especially not in me."
The Sharks took the early lead on Logan Couture's eighth goal midway through the first period.
Thornton passed Lemieux with his 1,034th assist late in the first period when Timo Meier redirected his shot with 10 seconds remaining near the end of a four-minute double-minor on Derrick Pouliot for high sticking.
Thornton had another assist in the third period on Karlsson's second goal of the season. His 1,035 assists include 750 with the Sharks.
"He's been playing at a high level for a while," Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said of Karlsson. "He's starting to . the puck's starting to go in, he's starting to get some luck. The guys he's giving it to are starting to stick it in the net at the right time. Really, that's all that changed. I thought he struggled the first five, seven games, and I think since then he's gotten pretty good."
San Jose sent the Canucks to their eighth straight loss. Vancouver has been outscored 34-16 over that stretch.
"Obviously it's tough," Canucks defenseman Christopher Tenev said. "It's eight in a row now and it's something no one in here envisioned that would happen."
Vancouver had three power plays.
The Sharks scored three goals on six power plays
San Jose has given up just two power-play goals in its last 19 games. The Sharks have killed off 48 of 50 penalties (96 percent) over that stretch.
"You've got to give them credit," Canucks coach Travis Green said. "They did a real good job killing penalties. They're good at it. They've got a big strong team, a veteran team. They're smart. I've said that before about penalty killing, it's a learned art and they're good at it."
The Sharks broke the game open midway through the third period on Melker Karlsson's first goal of the season.
Sharks goalie Aaron Dell had 19 saves.
Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson turned back 20 shots.
The Canucks managed just three shots in the third period.
NOTES: The Sharks are 10-0-1 in their last 11 games against Vancouver with six straight wins at San Jose. . Sharks C Lukas Radil made his NHL debut. Radil played on the fourth line in place of Antti Suomela, a healthy scratch. . Nilsson (broken finger) was making his first start since Oct. 25. . After concluding a six-game homestand on Friday, San Jose plays 25 of its next 40 games on the road. . Sharks F Joe Pavelski had his five-game point streak snapped.
Canucks: Conclude a three-game California road trip in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Sharks: Open a five-game road trip in Vegas on Saturday