Ryan Kesler scored for the Canucks with 14 seconds left in the third period to force overtime and Kevin Bieksa scored on a shot that found its way under Sharks goalie Antti Niemi's pad in the second overtime to put Vancouver in the Stanley Cup finals with a 3-2 win that eliminated visiting San Jose.

Roberto Luongo made 51 saves for Vancouver, which trailed for almost all of the third period after Devin Setoguchi scored for the Sharks 24 seconds into the final period.

Niemi had 31 saves for San Jose.

Noteworthy

* The Atlanta Thrashers' sale and move to Winnipeg is not yet official, but Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed talked yesterday as if losing the team is inevitable.

"I think anytime we lose a major sports franchise, it is tough," Reed said.

"It is going to hurt the city but we will withstand it just fine and we will get through it. We have a lot of positive things going on in the sports franchise space that I think we'll be announcing pretty soon that will offset it a bit."

An announcement about a Thrashers' sale and move to Winnipeg will have to wait.

"No agreement has been reached," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email to the Associated Press last night.

This would not be the first time longtime Atlanta hockey fans have suffered the pain of losing a team to Canada. Atlanta lost its first NHL team in 1980 when the Flames moved to Calgary.

Reed said the city was willing to work to keep the Thrashers, but had no success in its search for a buyer to keep the team in Atlanta. Reed's office has joined the Thrashers' ownership group, called the Atlanta Spirit, in the search.

"I've been working very hard to be as helpful as I can, but the Thrashers, as you know, are in an extraordinary position because of the amount of the losses associated with the team," Reed said. "We have not yet seen a path where we can reverse those losses fast enough.

"You talk to the Atlanta Spirit ownership, they will share the same thing. It's not a lack of the city being willing to step up and do something about it. It is a partner with deep enough pockets to be willing to sustain pretty significant losses and we have not yet had any of the individuals in our community who are prepared to take that on. But it has not been for a lack of trying, believe you me."

Smith answered questions from reporters about the Thrashers after speaking at the opening of a new office complex.

The Thrashers' owners, led by Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon Jr., are in talks with True North Sports and Entertainment, which would relocate the team to Winnipeg.

The ownership group also owns the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and operating rights to Philips Arena, which is home to both teams.

The ownership group claims the hockey club has lost more than $150 million since 2005. Gearon told the Associated Press this week the team lost $20 million in the 2006-07 season when it made its only playoff appearance.

The Thrashers' average attendance this season was 13,469 - 28th out of 30 teams.

True North reportedly is willing to pay $110 million for the team and another $60 million to the league as a relocation fee.

Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz told the National Post in Canada yesterday he expects the sale to be final this week.

Katz said he believes the options for the NHL are to announce the deal as soon as possible or to wait until after the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"And every week or 2 makes such a difference when you're trying to gear up for something like this," Katz told the paper. "I think the astute business move would be to get it done ASAP and to me that's in the next 48 hours. Before this week is over, for sure."

* Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita says he has been diagnosed with stage 1 oral cancer.

"Stan has been diagnosed with an early base of tongue cancer and the prognosis is excellent," Dr. Richard Borrowdale of Loyola Medical Center, who is treating Stan.

"He will be treated with external beam radiation therapy."

The 71-year-old Mikita had 541 goals and 926 assists in a 21-season career, all with Chicago.

He won the Stanley Cup in 1961 and the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP in 1967 and 1968 with Chicago. The nine-time All-Star had his No. 21 retired by the team in 1980.

* The Detroit Red Wings have scheduled a news conference for defenseman Brian Rafalski amid speculation that he will retire.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist from Dearborn, Mich., is scheduled to talk with reporters today. He will be joined by general manager Ken Holland.

The 37-year-old Rafalski was limited by injuries to a career-low 63 games last season, finishing with just four goals.

He helped New Jersey win two Stanley Cups and the Red Wings hoist one. Rafalski played for the U.S. in losses to Canada in the 2010 and 2002 gold-medal games.