Sekera leads Hurricanes past Sharks

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes have stepped up their play since the start of the year. The San Jose Sharks seem to be going in the opposite direction.

Andrej Sekera and Victor Rask scored 3:41 apart late in the third period and the Hurricanes won their fourth straight in San Jose, beating the Sharks 5-4 on Saturday night.

Eric Staal, Andrej Nestrasil and Elias Lindholm also scored for the Hurricanes, who are 9-3-3 since Jan. 1. Cam Ward stopped 23 shots to improve to 4-1 against the Sharks.

"These guys were emotionally and mentally engaged in the game," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "We skated as well as we have at any time since the All-Star break and that's a good sign we've got our legs back."

Carolina, last in the Metropolitan Division, has accumulated nearly half of its 45 points over the past 15 games. The Sharks, second in the Pacific Division, are 7-7-2 in 2015.

"We were ready to go," Staal said. "We were aggressive in their end and our first period was solid. They pushed back but we were able to fend them off."

Tomas Hertl had two goals and Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau also scored for San Jose. Antti Niemi finished with 26 saves.

"We were on our heels a little bit to start with," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "That shouldn't happen. We should be a little bit better."

Sekera put the Hurricanes ahead with less than 5 minutes remaining and Rask's empty-netter made it 5-3 with 1:10 to go. Marleau closed the scoring 15 seconds later.

"We played hard. We weren't very sharp in the first two and came alive in the third," Couture said. "We gave up that fourth one, which was kind of unlucky. We couldn't find a way to tie it back up."

Sekera's goal kicked off a San Jose defender's skate and into the net.

"Obviously we got a great bounce on the game winner," Staal said. "We were jumping on pucks and giving ourselves a lot of chances."

The Hurricanes took the lead in the game's first minute when Staal beat the Sharks to a bounce off the backboard. The sequence started when Sekera won the puck off the boards at the blue line.

Staal has 10 goals since his younger brother Jordan returned to the lineup from a broken right fibula 17 games ago. He scored seven through his first 30 games.

Nestrasil made it 2-0 early in the second period as he split a pair of defenders to beat Niemi after taking a pass from Alexander Semin.

Hertl scored his first goal 3 minutes later after Chris Tierney won a battle to the puck behind the net and passed it out to him.

Lindholm, who has six points in four games against the Sharks, made it 3-1 midway through the second period on a power play. He was able to skate in with the puck until he found a gap.

"Justin held onto it and allowed me to get deep," Lindholm said. "He made a great play there."

The Sharks scored twice in the first 4 minutes of the third period to tie the score. Hertl's baseball-style swing on a puck in the air produced the first score, and Couture worked a give-and-go with Matt Tennyson to tie it.

NOTES: Carolina D Ryan Murphy, who left Thursday's game against the Arizona Coyotes with a lower-body injury, will have an MRI performed Monday when the team returns home. . Eric Staal has 14 points in his last 18 games. . Hertl recorded his third career multi-goal game after totaling two goals in his previous 22 games. . Sharks C Joe Thornton moved into a tie for 36th place, with Peter Stastny, on the NHL's all-time points list with 1,239.

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