Vancouver vs. San Jose- It was do-or-die for the Sharks Friday night. With a loss, they would have fallen behind 3-0 to the Canucks. That would have been very difficult to overcome, as it has only happened one percent successfully in the NHL. But it was the Sharks who jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the scoreboard and had to hold on to the lead as a charging Canucks team tried to make it a close game but fell short 4-3 in Game 3 in San Jose.
The Canucks still lead the series 2-1, but Sunday’s Game 4 is important in establishing breathing room or making Game 5 Tuesday a must-win. It won’t be easy as Sharks bench boss Todd McLellan hopes his team will have the same firepower they showed Friday night.
After finally getting on the scoresheet in Game 7 against the Red Wings, Patrick Marleau has scored a goal in the first three games against Vancouver. He had his best night of the playoffs last night where he scored twice and recorded an assist. Marleau didn’t need much time to get the home crowd standing and cheering as he scored a power play goal at 3:56 when Joe Thornton fed him a pass in front of the net while Thorton was behind the goal line. It was also Marleau’s third consecutive game with a power play goal.
The next Sharks power play goal would come at 8:22 when Ryan Clowe hacked at multiple stopped shots from Roberto Luongo and finally got it past him. Dan Boyle and Ian White were credited with assists. There were only two penalities in the opening period, and the Sharks took advantage and scored both times they had the power play.
The third San Jose goal occurred later in the period when Marleau and Thornton hooked up again at 17:25 when Marleau blocked a shot at the San Jose blue line, beat several Vancouver players to the puck and was able to race in and fire a shot past Luongo. After a scoreless second period, the Sharks continued to lead 3-0 and out-shot the Canucks 30-22. Vancouver was able to get 13 shots on Antti Niemi in the second period, but was denied every time. San Jose fired 14 shots on goal in the second period as they got 16 shots in net in the first period.
The third period was where San Jose fell apart in the Detroit series, and it looked like it would happen again Friday. Vancouver got on the scoreboard at 1:09 of the third period when Alexandre Burrows ripped a wrist shot when the rebound from Niemi came his way. At 6:46, Dan Boyle helped the Sharks regain the three-goal lead when he fired a slap shot from just past the top of the right faceoff circle. He got help from Marleau and Thornton on the power play goal.
Vancouver would add two more goals, both on the power play. The first came at 13:39 when Dam Hamius took a pass from one faceoff dot across the ice to the other from Henrik Sedin. Niemi had no chance to stop the shot as it also went through traffic. The Sharks became nervous towards the end of the game when the Canucks were able to score another power play goal with just under four minutes left.
Kevin Bieksa was able to fire another slap shot from the point and through traffic to score his fourth goal of the playoffs. His goal was assisted by Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen.
Of all the goals scored in the game, where were saves to be made by both goalies. Niemi made 27 saves on 30 shots while Luongo turned away 34 of 38 shots. Both teams need to tighten up their defense and not take as many penalties, as Vancouver went 2-5 and San Jose went 2-9.
Game 4 is tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 p.m. on NBC and CBC.