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An early taste of the playoffs
Sharks get chippy in 4-2 win
4/8/10 - By Mike Lee -

With the Western Conference crown still on the line for the Sharks, they were playing with a purpose on Thursday night at HP Pavilion. The Vancouver Canucks really had nothing to gain with their playoff position cast in stone. The Canucks would trail 4-0 after the first 40 minutes of their contest with San Jose , then things turned personal. The Sharks would take a 4-2 decision over the Canucks, but an emotional 3rd period turned a one-sided blowout into a playoff type atmosphere that has suddenly created an intriguing match-up should the two meet in the upcoming playoffs.

The storyline turned interesting when a Henrik Sedin slash went uncalled early in the 3rd period. The Sharks responded with a physical presence that has often been missing from their game this season. By the time the smoke cleared, the Sharks racked up 51 penalty minutes in the period and Vancouver added 25 of their own.

“There was a lot of emotion in the game we perhaps lost our composure a little bit," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. " What I like about it is that there was emotion, I’m sure that it is probably good for both teams heading into the playoffs.”

With multiple 5-on-3 chances in the period, Vancouver could only capitalize with a single power play goal. They would generate an even strength tally, but it was too little too late.

San Jose would lean on Evgeni Nabokov early in the game. The netminder stoned Canucks forward Michaek Grabner six minutes into the game on a Vancouver 3-on-1 break. A Matt Pettinger holding penalty put the Sharks on the power play at 10:40 of the period, but Vancouver created a 2-0 break after Joe Pavelski misplayed the puck at his own blueline. Once again Nabokov denied the Canucks to keep the game scoreless.

Pavelski would atone for his miscue with his 25th goal of the season with 1:25 remaining in the period. Ryane Clowe setup the scoring chance by driving the puck to the net from the right corner, then sliding a pass to Pavelski who was cutting backdoor.

The Sharks made it 2-0 just 1:57 into the 2nd period when Logan Couture deflected a Marc-Edouard Vlasic blast from the left point. Couture was loitering in front of the Vancouver net and got a stick on the puck before it knuckled past Canucks goaltender Andrew Raycroft.

The skill guys got in on the act less than 4 minutes later. Dany Heatley circled inside the right circle before spotting Joe Thornton cutting down the slot. The sniper wound up for what appeared to be a shot, but instead sent a feed between the circles where Thornton redirected it for his 20th goal of the season.

The Sharks almost gave up the weirdest goal of the season when Nabokov tried leaving the ice on a delayed penalty to Alex Edler at the 9 minute mark of the period. With the puck in the Canucsk zone, the Sharks tried moving the puck back up to the point but there was nobody there to receive it. The puck floated past Nabokov as he made his way back to the bench for the extra attacker, but it flipped on its edge and curled back toward the Sharks goal. It would hit the left post before defenseman Jason Demers could retrieve it.

Manny Malhotra pushed the Sharks lead to 4-0 at 16:41 after defenseman Douglas Murray made a nice play to gain control of the puck in the Sharks end and move it up to the streaking winger. MAlhotra carried the puck up the right side and whipped a shot that split Raycroft's pads for his 14th goal of the season.

“Heading into the playoffs you have to have contributions from everybody," added McLellan. "Teams will reel in on the top scorers, the top players on each team as they try to stay even, and try to stay ahead if they can. The third and fourth line players have to contribute, it’s nice to see some of those guys put pucks in the net and create plays it was pretty rewarding.”

The 3rd period nonsense would start when Jamie McGinn would take an interference penalty at 6:24. Marc-Edouard Vlasic would follow that with a holding the stick penalty 35 seconds later to give the Canucks a 5-on-3. Scott Nichol would make matters worse by cross checking Mikael Samuelsson with a minute still remaining on McGinn’s penalty.

Nabokov kept the puck out of his own net with a pair of big saves on the extended 5-on-3, and the penalty-killers would disrupt the Canucks special teams play enough to keep Vancouver off the board.

Rob Blake and Samuelsson would mix it up at 9:08, but both would draw off-setting double minors.

"We probably had too many penalties early by us," Ryan Clowe said of the crazy 3rd period. "It was one of these things. We were up by four (goals). The guys stuck together. That's a good sign. There's a lot of emotion and we didn't go to sleep in the 3rd. "

Alex Burrows would try and send a message by laying out Thornton with a check away from the puck at center ice, which would earn him an interference penalty. Thornton took exception to the play and take it out on Henrik Sedin by ripping the Swede’s helmet off in an attempt to engage him in fisticuffs.

With Thornton in the box, defenseman Niklas Wallin would engage Ryan Kesler, earning a pair for roughing, five for fighting and a misconduct. That would put the Canucks back on the 5-on-3. This time Vancouver would convert. Pavel Demitra scored his 3rd goal of the season on a feed from Henrik Sedin at 10:26 to break up Nabokov’s shuout.

Andrew Alberts made it 4-2 at 12:03 with a blast from the left point that wove its way past Nabokov. San Jose got back to business and put the clamps on Vancouver to play out the remainder of regulation.

“I thought we played a good first period even though they came out ahead," said Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault. "I thought our execution was good but I thought we got a little sloppy in the second. And then I thought our guys battled back hard but obviously four goals against this team is too much.”

Game Notes:

Pavelski's goal matched his single-season high (25). Torrey Mitchell's two assists gave his first career multi-point game. Thornton goal made it 10 consecutive seasons in which he's scored 20 or more goals.


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1 2 3 T
VAN 0 0 2 2
SJ 1 3 0 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 25 (Clowe, Setoguchi), 18:35.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Couture 5 (Vlasic, Mitchell), 1:57. 3, SJ, Thornton 20 (Heatley, Marleau), 5:16. 4, SJ, Malhotra 14 (Mitchell, Murray), 16:41.
3rd period - 5, VAN, Demitra 3 (H. Sedin, D. Sedin), 10:26, (pp). 6, VAN, Albert 3 (Raymond), 12:03.
1st period - Pettinger, VAN (holding), 10:40; Edler, VAN (holding), 19:21.
2nd period - Rome, VAN (fighting major), 7:13; Clowe, SJ (fighting major), 7:13; Edler, VAN (cross checking), 9:00; Team, SJ (too many men), 11:34; Pettinger, VAN (hooking), 13:58.
3rd period - McGinn, SJ (interference), 6:24; Vlasic, SJ (holding the stick), 6:59; Nichol, SJ (cross checking), 7:21; McGinn, SJ (10 min misconduct), 8:28; Samuelsson, VAN (roughing), 9:08; Samuelsson, VAN (slashing), 9:08; Blake, SJ (roughing), 9:08; Blake, SJ (cross checking), 9:08; Burrows, VAN (interference), 9:28; Burrows, VAN (slashing), 9:28; Thornton, SJ (roughing), 9:28; Kesler, VAN (fighting major), 9:46; Kesler, VAN (10 min misconduct), 9:46; Wallin, SJ (roughing), 9:46; Clowe, SJ (10 min misconduct), 9:46; Wallin, SJ (fighting major), 9:46; Wallin, SJ (10 min misconduct), 9:46; Burrows, VAN (roughing), 18:29; Demers, SJ (broken stick), 19:42.
Shots Saves
VAN - Raycroft 31 27
SJ - Nabokov 32 30
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
VAN 10 9 13 32
SJ 15 10 6 31
Power Play Conversion
VAN 1 of 5
SJ 0 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Torrey Mitchell
Joe Pavelski
Evgeni Nabokov
Referees: LaRue, L'Ecuyer. Linesmen: Nansen, Shewchyk.
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