Monday, May 23, 2011

Vancouver's 2-minute drill puts San Jose on brink

Leading up to Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, both teams vowed to stay out of the penalty box.
Neither did Sunday at HP Pavilion, but the Sharks were unable to convert any of their many early power-play chances, and then San Jose suddenly began handing the top-seeded Canucks two-man advantages by the fistful in a 4-2 loss to Vancouver.
The Canucks, who scored a postseason-record three 5-on-3 goals Sunday, have won three of the first four games, and they can close out the best-of-seven series Tuesday night at home.
"If we lose another game, we're done, that's it," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said.

San Jose captain Joe Thornton, who leads the team with 17 points this postseason, is a question mark for Tuesday night after missing the final 10 minutes. Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he did not have an update on Thornton's status after the game.
Vancouver, which failed to convert on two 5-on-3s on Friday, did not let any of the opportunities pass Sunday, and the goals came fast and furious - three in less than two minutes in the second period, including two by defenseman Sami Salo.
"We got away with it the last game," Boyle said of Game 3. "Tonight, we didn't."
San Jose had no infractions until Dany Heatley was called for high-sticking 8:15 into the second period. Less than a minute later, Torrey Mitchell went into the box for hooking, and 11 second after that, Ryan Kesler ripped one in from the left circle.
That took Heatley out of the box, but - this is going to start sounding repetitive - less than two minutes later, the Sharks were called for too many men on the ice. That was the only one of the officiating decisions that was contested in the Sharks' room, and even that only a little; center Logan Couture believed Patrick Marleau had exited.
"I thought Patty had come off the ice, I jumped on," Couture said. "I didn't think it was a penalty, but I'd have to see it on tape to make sure."
This time, it took Vancouver 14 seconds to score, with Salo banging one in from the top through traffic.
The next Sharks' miscue came six seconds later when defenseman Douglas Murray sent the puck over the glass, an automatic delay-of-game penalty.
"Obviously, when I shoot the puck over the glass, that can't happen," said Murray, who thought there was a chance that a Vancouver player had gotten a stick on it. "No excuse. ... A rule's a rule."
Ten seconds later, the Canucks got another blast from Salo, who moved into the slot, took a pass from Henrik Sedin and unloaded for a 3-0 Vancouver lead. Salo, who also assisted on the first goal, missed the first four months of the season with a torn Achilles, and he had one goal in his first 12 games this postseason.
Vancouver scored at even strength 5:43 into the third period, when Sedin, who had four assists, streaked on a breakaway with Alexandre Burrows and slid a pass between goalie Antti Niemi's legs as Burrows was arriving in the crease to tap it home.
San Jose responded just more than a minute later when fourth-liner Andrew Desjardins tipped in a shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and with just more than four minutes to go, Ryane Clowe put one in from the left circle. In the final 2:12. Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo stopped three shots, Heatley had two blocked and the Sharks missed the net twice.
And now it's back to Vancouver, where the Canucks won the first two games and had the league's best regular-season home record.
"The series is far from over," Luongo said. "We know that, as we've seen in the first two series, the last one is always the toughest one to win."
Western finals
Sharks vs. Canucks
Canucks lead series 3-1
Game 1: Canucks 3, Sharks 2
Game 2: Canucks 7, Sharks 3
Game 3: Sharks 4, Canucks 3
Game 4: Canucks 4, Sharks 2
Tuesday: at Vancouver, 6 p.m.
Thursday: at HP Pavilion, 6 p.m.*
Saturday: at Vancouver, 5 p.m.*
TV: Remaining games on Versus. Radio: 98.5/102.1.
* if necessary

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