VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Jeremy Roenick has something to celebrate on this trip to Vancouver instead of sulking about not playing.
Roenick made headlines last season for leaving the rink after being told he was a healthy scratch and watching his Phoenix Coyotes teammates play the Vancouver Canucks from a nearby steakhouse and bar.
Back in Vancouver with the San Jose Sharks on Friday, Roenick made news on the ice, scoring his the 496th and 497th career goals to lift the Sharks to a 3-1 victory over the Canucks.
"I don't know, that steak at the Keg was really good. They serve a really good steak, there's no question about that," Roenick said with a smile when asked if he enjoyed this year's trip more. "But I ll take the two goals instead."
Evgeni Nabokov had 22 saves for the Sharks, who lost a shootout in Edmonton the previous night and arrived late in Vancouver, but still got off to a strong start to spoil the Canucks' season opener.
Joe Thornton opened the scoring 5:30 in by turning a 2-on-1 into a breakaway shot that trickled through Roberto Luongo. Roenick then moved up the list of American goal-scorers with two goals before the period ended, giving the Sharks a 3-0 lead they didn't relinquish.
"We kind of answered the bell. Last night we laid a bit of an egg in Edmonton and tonight the guys responded in the first period," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "A great play by Joe Thornton and then JR was Johnny on the spot and went to the net and was rewarded."
Roenick banged in a rebound for his first goal at 11:48 of the first period. Vancouver had just finished killing off a four-minute penalty when the 37-year-old Boston native added his 497th career goal on a deflection from the slot 3½ minutes later.
"JR is taking everyone to the Keg for steak dinner," Wilson announced with a laugh.
It wasn't that long ago that Roenick's future was no laughing matter. Coming off career scoring lows of 22 and 28 points in Los Angeles and Phoenix the previous two seasons, Roenick was close to retiring this summer. But Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, who was Roenick's roommate with Chicago in 1988, called with an offer that surprised many.
"I was retired, are you kidding?" Roenick said. "I had my golf clubs in hand and was ready to hang them up, but thank goodness a call from Doug Wilson kept me around."
Now, in his 19th NHL season, Reonick is only three goals away from becoming just the third American-born player to score 500, and five goals shy of matching Joe Mullen (502) for second place behind leader Mike Modano (507) of the Dallas Stars.
"Every goal is an exciting one now as you do inch closer to a milestone but more important is doing the things this team needs me to do, going out here and helping them win," Roenick said. "If I go out and play the way they want me to and play hard, that stuff is going to come and I can enjoy it when the season is over."
Luongo made 28 saves for the Canucks, who struggled to find their form early after playing their final preseason game six days earlier.
"The first period I don't think we were happy with our effort and I m going to put myself at the forefront of that one," Luongo said. "We could use any excuse in the book, but the bottom line is it was our home opener so we have to be energized and come out strong and we really didn't do that. It's tough to get back in the game when you give up three goals in the first period."
Vancouver had a couple of surprising new faces on their top two lines in the hopes of kick-starting an offense that struggled last season. Fast-skating rookie Mason Raymond started on the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and speedy-but-small newcomer Ryan Shannon played with Markus Naslund and Ryan Kesler on the second unit. But even when the Canucks created chances, they couldn't solve Nabokov.
The Sharks' No.1 goalie robbed Henrik Sedin on a 2-on-1 late in the first period. He got a break when Shannon fired wide of an empty net on the power play just before the period ended, but stopped Shannon s point-blank shot from the slot early in the second.
Brendan Morrison broke his shutout with a power-play wraparound six minutes into the third, but Nabokov preserved the two-goal lead with a diving glove stop on the goal line four minutes later.
"To be honest with you it was 50-50 because I think I catch it in the air," Nabokov said of a play that required video review. "I don t think it was behind the line, but it was pretty close."
- Roenick is also third among U.S.-born players with 1,172 points, trailing only Modano (1,227) and Phil Housley (1,232).
- Canucks forwards Jeff Cowan and Brad Isbister were healthy scratches.
- Vancouver D Sami Salo is two weeks away from playing after breaking his wrist during an intrasquad game in training camp.
- Vancouver plays in Calgary on Saturday night.
- The Sharks play at Colorado on Sunday and at Chicago on Wednesday before their home opener against Boston next Saturday.