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Canucks pounce on Sharks penalties
Vancouver scores three 5-on-3 goals to take 3-1 series lead
5/22/11 - By Mike Lee -

Give a team like the Vancouver Canucks a 5-on-3 and it will cost you. Give them three and you are sure to go home a loser. That's what the Sharks did in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday afternoon, dropping a 4-2 decision at HP Pavilion. The Canucks scored three goals in a span of 115 seconds, capitalizing on a flurry of inexcusable penalties to grab a 3-1 series lead. San Jose finds itself on the brink after also squandering four 1st period power play chances.

Game 4 was essentially a story of a team that couldn't convert its chances on the man-advantage, and another team that couldn't miss on three softball chances.

San Jose played 8 of the first 20 minutes of the contest with a man advantage, but they chose to attack from the perimeter on each power play. Vancouver's quick penalty killers simply took away time space with an aggressive approach to defending while down a man.

The Sharks didn't help themselves by trying to skate through a modified trap in the neutral zone. Rather than dumping and chasing, San Jose got cute and tried to use fancy skating and passing to penetrate the Canucks front line. That resulted in a flurry of clearing chances.

Left winger Tanner Glass was called for tripping 26 seconds into the contest, but Vancouver had the best scoring chance during the two minute infraction. Antti Niemi stopped the break with a pair of big kick saves.

Patrick Marleau just missed on a great scoring chance at 4:30 of the opening period, firing a chance from the slot just wide right. He had Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo leaning, but he pulled his chance a hair too much.

Kevin Bieksa took a high sticking penalty at 10:32, but once again the Sharks failed to convert.

Glass made his second trip to the box a minute after Bieksa's penalty expired after hitting Ian White from behind to earn a boarding minor. The Sharks started to press on the power play, because they weren't generating any chances, much less shots on net. That led to a more disjointed attack, which allowed the Canucks to just sit back and wait.

The period ended with another call on the Canucks after Raffi Torres lined up Douglas Murray right at the horn. He took advantage of the defenseman who was trying to carry the puck deep into the Canucks zone along the left wing boards. Not a stranger to head-hunting in San Jose, Torres was called for charging after he leveled Murray with an elbow to the head.

The 2nd period picked up right were the 1st left off. The Canucks were serving up opportunity after opportunity, but the Sharks weren't taking advantage. Dan Hamhuis hooked Marleau 6 seconds after Torres penalty expired to put the Sharks on the power play for the sixth straight time. It would be San Jose's last chance with the man-advantage, and like the five chances that preceded it, they failed to get any serious chances on Luongo.

With the Sharks so ineffective on so many chances, you could sense what was coming. What you couldn't have predicted was the frequency in which the Sharks would shoot themselves in the foot.

The Canucks finally got their crack at the man advantage when Dany Heatley took a dumb high sticking penalty at 8:15 of the period. He was trailing on a Vancouver counter-attack, when he decided to catch Cody Hodson with an errant stick. Torrey Mitchell took an even dumber hooking penalty 50 seconds later to put the Canucks on the two-man advantage.

Vancouver took all of 11 seconds to put a puck past Niemi. Ryan Kesler pumped a shot from the left dot, firing it over Niemi's right shoulder.

With Mitchell still in the box, San Jose was called for to many men to put the Canucks back on the two-an advantage. Sami Salo pumped a shot past Niemi from the point, with Alex Burrows creating a distraction out in front.

Murray added to San Jose's misfortune by throwing a puck over the glass 6 seconds after Salo's goal. The Canucks liked what Salo did on the previous possession, so they did the same exact thing. Daniel Sedin worked the puck to his brother Henrik in right corner, who then sent a feed to the slot for a one-timer by Salo. The Canucks defenseman found twine again, separating his two goals by a mere 16 seconds.

Just like that it was 3-0.

The Canucks had 4 shots in the period, scoring on 3 of them. Niemi would only face 9 other pucks the entire game.

Needing a goal to get back into the contest, San Jose started to press in the 3rd period. That cost them after getting caught with a defenseman deep in the Vancouver zone. Daniel Sedin saw his brother breaking on the right wing and hit him with a long pass to create a 2-on-1 break. Henrik attacked the right post with the puck, drawing Niemi out of his net. Sedin then slid a pass through Niemi's pads to Burrows on the far post for the tap in.

San Jose finally got on the board at 7:02 when Andrew Desjardins deflected a point shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic for his first career playoff goal. Vlasic did something the Sharks failed to do all afternoon. He put the puck on net quickly, rather than holding it and allowing the quick Vancouver defenders to setup for the block. Desjardins was floating toward the slot from the left side, when he got his stick on the waist high shot.

The official score-keeper was asleep at the wheel, crediting Kent Huskins with the primary assist on the goal.

Marleau took some of the wind out of the Sharks sails by taking an interference penalty in the Canucks zone at 13:29. That 2-minute infraction was critical, because it killed valuable time on the clock. Vancouver was content with simply cycling the puck to burn time.

Ryane Clowe made it 4-2 on a play similar to one Marleau missed on early in the contest. With Luongo leaning to his right, Clowe took a drop form Logan Couture and sent a shot across his body to the right side of the net for his 6th goal of the playoffs.

With 4 minutes left, San Jose made a mad scramble to scratch out another goal, but they could only get three more shots on net. San Jose pulled Niemi with 2 minutes left in the game, but it was too little, too late.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
VAN 0 3 1 4
SJ 0 0 2 2
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, VAN, Kesler 6 (Salo, H. Sedin), 9:16, (pp). 2, VAN, Salo 2 (H. Sedin, D. Sedin), 10:55, (pp). 3, VAN, Salo 3 (H. Sedin, D. Sedin), 11:11, (pp).
3rd period - 4, VAN, Burrows 6 (H. Sedin, D. Sedin), 5:43. 5, SJ, Desjardins 1 (Huskins, McGinn), 7:02. 6, SJ, Clowe 6 (Couture, Marleau), 15:55.
Penalties
1st period - Glass, VAN (tripping), 1:26; Bieksa, VAN (high sticking), 10:32; Glass, VAN (boarding), 13:36; Torres, VAN (charging), 20:00.
2nd period - Hamhuis, VAN (hooking), 2:06; Heatley, SJ (high sticking), 8:15; Mitchell, SJ (hooking), 9:05: Bench, SJ (too many men), 10:39: Murray, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 11:01.
3rd period - Marleau, SJ (interference), 13:29; Clowe, SJ (roughing), 20:00.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
VAN - Luongo 35 33
SJ - Niemi 13 9
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
VAN 6 4 3 13
SJ 10 8 17 35
Power Play Conversion
VAN 3 of 5
SJ 0 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Henrik Sedin
Sami Salo
Daniel Sedin
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Sutherland, Furlatt. Linesmen: Morin, Kovachik.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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