San Jose, CA–The Sharks square off against the Canucks for game four action of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. San Jose managed to sweep the first two games of the best of seven series on the road in Vancouver and then took game three with authority.
The series thus far.
Game 1: The Vancouver Canucks drew first blood in the series as defenseman Kevin Bieksa scored an unassisted goal on a backhander to take a 1-0 lead at the 12:26 mark of the contest middle frame. Minutes later, the Sharks got the much needed equalizer when Dan Boyle found Logan Couture in the high slot as Couture fired a wrister past Roberto Luongo to make it a 1-1 game. In the games final period, it was all San Jose. At the 9:17 mark, San Jose’s Tommy Wingels was caught in mad scramble in front Vancouver’s net as he managed to pass the puck on his four’s to Dan Boyle who pumped it home with the elevated wrist shot to put the Sharks up 2-1. With less than six minutes remaining in the opening game of the series Couture found Patrick Marleau sneaking into the slot area and fooled Luongo with a weak wrist shot to give the Sharks some late insurance to make it 3-1. That score would hold and San Jose took a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2: The San Jose Sharks scored the games first goal when defenseman Brad Stuart fired the puck on net, Canucks goaltender Luongo coughed up the loose puck as Brent Burns found Joe Thornton coming across the net mouth to put the puck into the next via an off balanced wrist shot to give San Jose the early 1-0 lead. In games second stanza there was no scoring. At the 39 seconds mark of the final period, the Sharks took an undisciplined penalty when Andrew Desjardins took a tripping minor. It did not take long for the Vancouver Canucks to make San Jose pay for their mistake. 20 seconds into the power play for Vancouver, Henrik Sedin found Ryan Kesler in the point position and slapped the one timer past Antti Niemi to tie it up at 1-1 in the third. Later in the period, another costly mistake by San Jose was committed when Dan Boyle turned the puck over in their own zone and it was Ryan Kesler who cashed in again to make the Sharks pay to take 2-1 Vancouver lead. In games final minute of regulation the Sharks were in complete desperation mode when Marleau came in with a soft wrist shot on Luongo. Everyone in Rogers Center thought their goaltender had saved the game for their Canucks, but Marleau spotted that Roberto Luongo did not have 100 percent possession of puck as it was resting behind him as a result Patrick Marleau tapped it in to tie the game up a 2 apiece. The tying goal by Marleau sent the game into overtime for the first time of the series. At the 5:31 mark of overtime, the Sharks were presented with a prime opportunity when Brent Burns and Raffi Torres went into the Canucks zone with only Kevin Bieksa back. Roberto Luongo thought that Burns was going to shot the puck on net when at the last second Burns decided to pass the puck to Torres and pumped it home and went upstairs on the Canucks netminder to give the Sharks the 3-2 win and 2-0 series lead.
Game 3: Much like the previous game, the Sharks struck first this courtesy of five on three power play. Prior to the play, Vancouver’s Dale Wiese was awarded with a roughing minor while Dan Hamhuis received a slashing for his efforts. While up two men, San Jose made them pay for their mistakes. Joe Thornton found Logan Couture in the slot position, then found Joe Pavelski to the right of the Canucks net and cashed in as he went upstairs on Cory Schneider to go up 1-0 at 14:08 of the first period. In the second period, it was Joe Pavelski again when he intercepted a shot by Tommy Wingels that redirected and went five hole under Schneider to make the score a 2-0 Sharks lead. Later in the period, the Canucks would cut the San Jose lead in half when Henrik Sedin found Alexandre Burrows who fired a weak wrist shot over Niemi to make it a 2-1 Sharks lead. In games final period, the flood gates open as the Sharks went on scoring spree. At 1:40 of the final period, San Jose’s Matt Irwin on the power play got the scoring spree started when he sent an up ice feed to Logan Couture who ended up firing a long wrist shot at the left faceoff circle to put puck past Schneider and made it a 3-1 San Jose lead. Then nine seconds later, Patrick Marleau joined the scoring when he breached the Vancouver end and went five hole on the Vancouver net minder as the Sharks increased their lead to 4-1. Minutes later, the Sharks were not done yet in the scoring department as it was again Logan Couture on the man advantage who made the Vancouver Canucks pay for their mistake as he scored virtually from the same spot as his last tally to give San Jose a 5-1 lead. Later in the third, Vancouver managed to chip into the Sharks 4 goal lead when Dan Hamhuis fooled Niemi with a weak wrist shot as the scoreboard registered a 5-2 score in favor of San Jose. The score who hold as San Jose took a 3-0 series lead over Vancouver.
Tonight the San Jose Sharks know that they have keep up intensity and desperation over a Canucks team who practically is on life support. Going into game four, San Jose has outscored Vancouver at a ratio slightly above 2:1.
Big Story: The Vancouver Canucks are reeling and none of the changes — from switching goalies to mixing lines — has worked, putting them on the brink of another early exit and back into a goaltending controversy as they try to avoid being eliminated by a San Jose Sharks team that has never swept a Stanley Cup Playoff series.
Only three teams in NHL history have come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-7 series, and after losing all six to San Jose this season, there’s little to suggest the Canucks will add to that. But the Sharks, who almost blew a 3-0 lead before winning Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings in 2011, will be wary.
“It’s going to be the toughest game,” goalie Antti Niemi said. “They’re going to put out their best effort, so we got to be ready and we got to go to our next level.”
Who’s hot: Logan Couture continued to make his case as the new face of the Sharks with two goals, four points, a couple of key blocked shots, and 15 of 18 faceoffs won in Game 3. With three goals and six points in the series, Couture tops a list of hot Sharks that also includes Patrick Marleau (three goals) and Joe Pavelski (two goals and four assists).
***Big Story/Who’s Hot Report: Courtesy of the NHL.***
Probable Lines for SJ in Game 4:
Probable lines for VAN in Game 4:
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Alex Burrows
Mason Raymond – Derek Roy – Jannik Hansen
Chris Higgins – Ryan Kesler – Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito – Maxim Lapierre – Dale Weise
Dam Hamhuis – Jason Garrison
Alex Edler – Kevin Bieksa
Andrew Alberts – Frank Corrado
Shark Bites: (interesting tidbits heading into Game 4)
*Nice Home Record…. The Sharks returned home for Game 3 having posting the best home record during the 2012-13 regular season (17-2-5)… with the Game 3 win on home ice, San Jose is now 38-33 all-time on home ice in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
*Game 4…. San Jose is 14-14 all-time in Game 4’s including a 5-7 record on home ice… the Sharks have lost their last three Game 4s.
*Looking for first sweep… in 28 previous series, the Sharks have never swept and opponent 3-0 in a best of seven series… San Jose has been swept twice (Chicago in 2010 in WCF and Detroit in 1995 WSF).
****Probables/Sharks Bites Report: Courtesy of the San Jose Sharks.****
Today’s contest has a 7:00p PST puck drop and can be seen on CSNCA HD and can be heard on 98.5/102.1 KFOX. In addition, the game is being broadcasting nationally in the United States on the CNBC. As for Canadian viewers, tonight’s match up is being televised on both CBC Network and RDS (French Speaking viewers).
LET’S GO SHARKS!!!!!!!!
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