Joe Thornton scores the fourth goal of the game past Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider in the opening minute of the second period. ((Paul Sakuma/Associated Press) )

The PMS era is winding down to its last few games and the Canucks are looking a little anxious, thinking of the gift to come.

Vancouver put a turkey in the oven on Tuesday night in San Jose, just days before the pre-Mats Sundin part of the season is expected to end with the appearance of the latest Left Coast saviour in the lineup of his new team.

Playing one of their few poor games in recent weeks, the Canucks allowed three goals in the first period and two more in the opening minute of the second on the way to a 5-0 loss to the Sharks.

The Sharks haven't lost a regular season game at home in regulation time since last February and the club improved its current season mark to 27-4-3 while the Canucks dropped to 19-13-3.

With Calgary's win earlier in the night, Vancouver fell a point behind in the race for first place in the Northwest Division, headed for the Christmas break. The Flames have a game in hand.

Rob Blake, Patrick Marleau and Devon Setoguchi score 2:47 apart in the opening frame, and Joe Thornton and Thomas Plihal added to the margin in the first 43 seconds of the second.

"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.

"It's so good to go into the break with a good feeling, so we can get a little rest."

That chased starting goaltender Cory Schneider from the crease after 15 shots in favour of backup Curtis Sanford, who had beaten Anaheim the night before in Vancouver.

After the goaltending shift, the two teams basically played shinny the rest of the way, finishing the contest in just over two hours and 15 minutes — amazingly quick in today's NHL.

The Canucks outshot the Sharks 13-5 in the third period — most from long range — and actually were 33-31 up in that category by game's end.

But none got by San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who earned his second shutout and league-leading 19th victory with 29 saves in the final two periods.

Now the Canucks look forward to two days off over Christmas before beginning a 17-game stretch that sees Vancouver at home 13 times.

After hosting Edmonton on Friday, they'll meet Ottawa on Sunday and it's that game some observers have been pointing to as Sundin's possible debut.

A shoo-in Hall of Famer, the long-time captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs signed with Vancouver last week after months of speculation about his ultimate destination, or if indeed he would play at all.

Already a surprisingly strong offensive club, the Canucks will welcome Sundin's scoring prowess if the big Swede is able to find the touch that has brought 555 NHL goals and 1,321 points to the table.

with files from Associated Press