Historic Series Sweep- Patrick Marleau scored the game winning goal 13:18 into overtime as the San Jose Sharks made team history with a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. With the win the Sharks for the first time in their 22 year franchise history swept a playoff series and did so as a sixth seeded underdog to the third seeded Canucks. Marleau’s goal was a power play goal which was the Sharks third of the game. The power play was set up after the Canucks’ Daniel Sedin was called for an untimely boarding penalty when he hammered Tommy Wingles into the boards head first. Marleau followed up a shot on goal from Joe Thornton to chip in the game winner much in the same way he tied Game 2 late in the third period last Friday evening. Marleau’s goal brought down the house of 17,000 plus as launched the Sharks into the Western Conference Semi Finals round which should start within the week. Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider after making the initial save on Thornton was unable to find the puck, allowing Marleau just enough time to get their first and bury the winner.
Jumping the Canuck- The Sharks got off to a quick start needing just under three minutes to open the scoring. With team teal controlling the puck in the Canucks zone, Scott Hannan took a feed pass from Thornton and drilled a slap shot from the left point which Brent Burns was able to redirect with his stick. The redirection by Burns beat Schneider to his left to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead just 2:48 into Game 4. The Canucks knowing that they were in a win or go home scenario would show a ton of fight in this game. As the opening period went on the Canucks to seem to be getting the better end of the play and puck control. With just under eight minutes played in the opening period, Vancouver would draw even when the Sharks were having trouble clearing the puck out of their defensive zone. Mason Raymond was able to capture and carry the loose puck out towards the blue line after Burns was not able to clear it away from the Canucks’ Daniel Hamhuis. From about 50 feet Raymond would drill a slap shot that ricocheted off Brad Stuart’s shoulder and over Niemi’s shoulder into the net tying the game.
Later in the period the Sharks would get a power play opportunity as Derek Roy would be whisted for sending Stuart head long into the boards near the Sharks bench. Joe Pavelski would only need seven seconds to untie the game as he would drill in a rebound of a Marleau slap shot giving the Sharks their second one goal lead of the game. During the period the Sharks also responded well on the penalty kill as both Logan Couture and Tommy Wingles were able to hold the puck in the Canucks zone and effectively play keep away for almost 40 seconds of the 2 minute penalty time. This was after Matt Irwin was sent to the penalty box for hooking. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi also made a few key saves to keep the Canucks out in the cold. Niemi made 12 of his 32 saves in the opening period.
Missed Opportunities- The middle period saw the Sharks dominate the Canucks in almost every area accept for the scoreboard. This included a second period 18-4 shot on goal advantage for the Sharks. Team teal would get three good power play chances, two of which would come on a double minor penalty to Hamhuis for hitting Wingles in the mouth with his stick and drawing blood. However despite more than enough good looks Vancouver’s Schneider was able to make the needed saves as the Sharks could do nothing with the four minute man advantage or a later subsequent Canucks penalty. These missed opportunities would prove to be costly as they kept Vancouver within striking distance going into the final regulation period.
In the third period Vancouver carry the balance of the early play and just missed tying the game when Daniel Sedin’s shot on goal beat Niemi but hit the left post before floating in front of the Sharks goal line. Later in the period the Canucks would tie the game, then take the lead on two goals within two minutes of each other over half way through the period. The first was set up by a Sharks penalty to Andrew Desjardens for a roughing call. Alex Burrows would get the game tying goal as he beat Niemi to the puck at the doorstep of the Sharks goal after a perfect feed pass from Sedin. Less than two minutes later Alex Elder would drill a slap shot from in the point after taking a feed pass from Alex Burrows to put the Canucks up 3-2 with 8:58 remaining in regulation.
Not To Be Out Done- The Sharks would battle to stay within a goal of the Canucks and would soon catch a huge break when Kevin Bieksa was called for cross checking. With 4:27 remaining in regulation, Joe Pavelski would find himself at the right place at the right time. Pavelski was able to follow up the rebound of shots on Schneider by Thornton and Couture. With Couture’s shot bouncing off of Schneider to his right, Pavelski was the first man to the hot rubber biscuit and drilled it into the net to tie the game and eventually send it into the overtime period. In the overtime period both teams battled back and fourth and had some good looks at winning the game. It would finally come down to Daniel Sedin’s boarding penalty with 6:57 remaining in the first overtime period that would make the difference as the Sharks, along with Thornton and Marleau, just needed 15 seconds to send the Canucks home for the late Spring and Summer.
Shark Bytes- The Three Stars of the Game were 3) Tommy Wingles; 2) Joe Pavelski, and 1) Patrick Marleau. This was the first time the Canucks suffered a series sweep loss since the 2000-01 season, when they lost to the then powerhouse Colorado Avs with goalie Patrick Roy. Martin Havlat missed his third straight game with an injury sustained in the first period of Game 1 last Wednesday. Adam Burish also left the game in the third period with a right hand injury. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance for this game.
Todd’s Take- Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan on the Sharks win…”It’s a big relief,” Coach McLellan said. “There was a lot invested in this physically, a lot of energy expelled. So the fact that we came away with a win is great. We don’t have to get on the plane tomorrow, we can get some rest. I think it will work in our favor.”**
Next Sharks Game- This is to be announced once the remaining matches of the first round are completed. The NHL re-seeds after the first round. Keep checking here for up to date information regarding the upcoming second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Because It’s The Cup!
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