Sharks drop Game 4, Canucks in command

Sharks drop Game 4, Canucks in command
May 22, 2011, 9:47 pm

May 22, 2011SHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEO
BOX SCORETim Panaccio
CSNCalifornia.com

SAN JOSE -- Northern California has seen its share of cataclysmic events over the last two centuries.

Devastating earthquakes, floods, mudslides, even rock concert mayhem with the Hells Angels.

This was different.

This was on ice inside the Shark Tank.

The Vancouver Canucks scored three, 5-on-3 power play goals in succession Sunday afternoon for a 4-2 victory that ripped the dorsal fins off the Sharks in the Western Conference Final, giving them an imposing 3-1 series lead.

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Alain Vigneaults club can clinch Tuesday in Vancouver.

You could spend a lifetime watching hockey and never see three, two-man advantage goals in succession. Turns out, it was a Stanley Cup playoff record for three in a period, in a game, in succession, and in just 1:55.

Thats not the half of it.

What truly makes it cataclysmic is that the Sharks had five count 'em! five power play chances in the first 24 minutes of play and failed to score, much less register a truly good scoring chance on Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

We dont score, they get three 5-on-3s and score, its as simple as that, said a frustrated Dan Boyle. We didnt score. Yesterday, youre asking me why the power play's so hot. Its gone. We dont score. Bottom line. Thats it.

Compounding the loss, Sharks captain Joe Thornton took a shoulder-to-shoulder hit from Raffi Torres with 11 minutes left in play, and never came back. There was no injury update, either.

Can anyone see the Sharks winning an elimination game if their best player -- Thornton -- isnt available?

Incredibly, Vancouver had just four shots on Antti Niemi during the decisive second period power play outburst that made it 3-0.

I cant remember a series with so many penalties, its crazy, San Jose's Ryane Clowe said. And then all of the sudden, in the third period, oh, were gonna let you play. It makes no sense to me. That many 5-on-3s for that amount of time, Ive never seen it before.

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Sharks coach Todd McLellan said it was a first for him, but I can't sit here and whine and bitch about the officiating, because it had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was the team in the white that created that mess.

Did we mention the Sedin twins -- Daniel and Henrik -- had six assists between them during those 5-on-3s and finished with seven points?

McLellan changed his lines in the third period, using Joe Pavelski between Clowe and Devin Setoguchi to generate some scoring. He then moved Logan Couture to Thorntons line with Patrick Marleau.

Didnt help.

The first phase of the game was when we had our powerplay opportunities, and we obviously weren't very sharp, McLellan said. They tightened things up. They stood at their line a little bit better.

But when you look at our execution, our passing, our faceoff opportunities to win pucks, we started breaking out all the time. You have to, when you're against the No. 1 penalty kill in the league, you have to be sharp -- and we weren't.

It was as simple as that. As you start rolling, you get more and more frustrated, you start to press a little bit. It snowballs, it gets worse and worse.

Vancouver got an early goal in the third, but the Sharks responded with a goal from Andrew Desjardins and then Clowe. Too little, far too late.

It was a way sloppier game from us, Douglas Murray said. we have to be sharper in our execution and take less penalties, which was something we addressed before the game. We did it to ourselves.

San Jose came into the game a scorching 6-for-13 on the power play. If the Sharks get one, maybe two goals, this game and this series probably goes the other way.

Our entries werent very good and we lost a lot of faceoffs, Couture said. They were able to clear the puck. When you get five straight power plays, youve got to score at least once. They turned around and scored on theirs.

The Canucks were far more aggressive on the penalty kill while the Sharks struggled to set up, rarely getting point shots. San Jose attacked from the right side every time on the power play, shooting to Luongos glove hand. All Vancouver had to do was overshift and force turnovers, which it did.

The first one, they were very aggressive, they were just better than we were, Boyle said. The other ones, we just werent sharp. The puck was bouncing around, not that that was an excuse. Execution, that was it.

The Canucks began the first period with a penalty and ended it with one thanks to Torres needless charge into Murray that gave San Jose a clean sheet of ice and full power to start the second period.

Not that it mattered, because the Sharks looked disorganized with the puck.

Unlike the Sharks, the Canucks didnt need five chances on the power play to score.

Just one. Which led to another and another and it was over.

You cant quibble with the calls, either: a Dany Heatley high-stick, followed by Torrey Mitchells hook, followed by too many Sharks on the ice for a bench minor, followed by Murrays delay-of-game with a puck out of play.

Vancouver used tape-to-tape, perfect passes to dazzle the Sharks overmatched penalty kill units. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was on the ice for all three goals; Murray for two.

You shoot the puck over the glass, it cant happen, Murray said. Theres no excuse for it. Ive never seen it three, 5-on-3s before but to be honest, I havent seen the calls, either

Ryan Kesler got the first goal at 9:16 for his sixth playoff marker, then Sami Salo, who had just one goal in the entire playoffs, scored twice more, making it 3-0. His right-handed shot was huge there.

Two and a half minutes of straight 5on3, having Salo there gave us a completely different look, McLellan said. We saw it late in the 5on3. But a righthanded shot and a onetimer off the side that they like to work

Vancouvers puck handling despite bad ice was simply far better than the Sharks, too.

They made great plays, Murray said. That second one, they get it through. You kinda know the plays theyre running but you cant cover everything. They did a better job executing than we did.

Process this game, get over it tonight and make a better effort a couple days from now. This team is definitely capable of winning three games. But right now, we have to win one.
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider for CSNPhilly.com E-mail him at tpanotch@comcast.net