Gomez, Schneider set to make series debuts

May 5, 2013, 1:00 pm
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Programming Alert: Tune in to Sharks Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California, followed by the puck drop at 7 p.m. and Sharks Postgame Live after the final horn in San Jose.

SAN JOSE – San Jose’s Scott Gomez and Vancouver’s Cory Schneider will each make their playoff debuts in Game 3 at HP Pavilion on Sunday night.

Gomez has the most playoff experience of anyone on the Sharks (140 games) and will line up on the fourth line between Adam Burish and James Sheppard.

“We’ll see what the lineup is tonight. Hopefully I’m in it, and we’ll go from there,” Gomez said.

Later, he joked: “They’re going to make me go out there. It is Cinco de Mayo, and they’ve got to sell some more tickets.”

Gomez, who has more career playoff assists (70) than Joe Thornton (67), should give a boost to the Sharks’ second power play unit after the team took an 0-for-5 in Game 2. The Sharks are 1-for-9 in the series.

“He’s highly skilled and knows how to work the power play,” Patrick Marleau said. “Just his presence alone in the locker room, on the ice and on the bench is huge.”

The Sharks managed to win Friday night despite losing the special teams battle. Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler scored a power play goal early in the third period after a bad penalty by Andrew Desjardins.

San Jose didn’t get a single shot off on its fifth and final power play of the night when Kevin Bieksa hit Logan Couture well after the whistle at 3:43 of the third with the game tied 1-1. Jason Garrison and Andrew Alberts each took an undisciplined penalty in the first period, too, and Vancouver survived.

“They made us pay for an undisciplined penalty, and we didn’t return the favor when they took a couple bad ones,” Todd McLellan said. “That has to be corrected.”

Schneider, meanwhile, hasn’t even dressed as the backup to Roberto Luongo in the first two games with an undisclosed injury. The goaltender also missed the final two games of the regular season.

In his last 16 games before he got hurt, Schneider was 11-4-1, and allowed more than two goals against just three times. He had four shutouts over that span.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said: “Goaltending hasn’t been the issue at all. That being said, Cory lost the net to an injury. Prior to his injury, his play was real good. … We were going to start with him in the playoffs. He’s good to go now, so he’s going to play tonight.”

* * *

The Canucks won 52 percent of faceoffs in Game 2, after San Jose won 57 percent in Game 1. Between games, Vigneault accused the Sharks of “cheating” in the circle.

Couture said that might have had an effect on the linesmen in Game 2.

“The refs were watching us because they complained about it earlier,” Couture said.

McLellan said: “I just hope that it’s called the same way it was in Vancouver now that we’re at home.”

Kesler won 19 of his 29 faceoffs, while Joe Thornton was just 9-for-25 in the circle.

* * *

The Sharks should be able to control their emotions in their first playoff home game, according to Thornton.

“We’ve all pretty much played a postseason game in this building, and it’s pretty electrifying,” he said. “Emotions will be high, but we’ll be excited to play here.”

San Jose will be looking to take a commanding 3-0 series lead, but either of the first two games could have ended differently, according to McLellan.

“This isn’t a series that’s a runaway, by any means,” he said. “It’s a shot, it’s a bounce, it’s a post, and it could be reversed the other way. It’s that even.

“I don’t know how it’s going to end or what the final results will be, but I think you could probably put Alain and I up here when it’s all said and done and we would tell you that. The two teams are that even.”

* * *

Justin Braun was on the receiving end of the biggest hit of the series at the end of the second period of Game 2, when Kesler caught him in front of the Vancouver bench.

How did Braun see the hit?

“I was just going for the puck. I knew it was the end of the period and I didn’t want to turn it over and cause anything, so I just chipped it forward,” Braun said. “He happened to get a good run at me. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

Did he think it was a penalty?

“No call on the play, I’m not going to get up and complain about it. There’s enough of that going on. Just go out there and keep playing, you can’t do anything about it then.”