As Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals moved on to its latter stages Tuesday night, the sellout crowd of 17,562 broke out into semi-regular chants of “Sweep! Sweep!”
Tommy Wingels and Patrick Marleau obliged.
Wingels drew two crucial penalties and Marleau scored the game-winner in overtime, and the San Jose Sharks did indeed complete a four-game sweep with a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at HP Pavilion.
The Sharks trailed 3-2 late in the third period but Wingels drew a cross-checking penalty on Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa at the 14:59 mark to put San Jose on the power play. It only took 34 seconds for the Sharks to net the equalizer, as Joe Pavelski scored his second goal of the night off a feed by Logan Couture to tie it at 3-3 at 15:33.
San Jose put a ton of pressure on Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider throughout the overtime and then got the edge it needed when Wingels once again prompted a power play by eliciting a boarding penalty on the Canucks’ Daniel Sedin. This time, it only took 15 seconds for the Sharks to score. Joe Thornton’s shot was stopped momentarily by Schneider, but the puck trickled across the crease to his right. Marleau flew across and slapped the rebound into the back of the net, setting off a deafening celebration at the Shark Tank.
It is the first playoff sweep in Sharks history. San Jose now must await the end of the other Western Conference quarterfinal matchups currently taking place to find out who it will play in the conference semifinals, a development that should give the team a significant layoff.
The fourth win of the series wasn’t easy for the Sharks. Although they led 2-1 after the first period, they found themselves on their heels for a good portion of the initial 20 minutes as the Canucks spent a lot of time in the San Jose zone. The second period was fairly even, as the Sharks easily killed off two penalties and Vancouver expertly turned back San Jose’s four-minute power play.
The game turned for a while in the third as the Canucks scored two goals in less than two minutes during the middle of the period. After San Jose’s Andrew Desjardins was penalized for roughing, Vancouver’s Alexandre Burrows scored with the man-advantage to tie the game at 2-2. Back at full strength moments later, Vancouver’s Alexander Edler put his team in front with a one-timer after Burrows had cleared it nicely from along the boards.
It looked like the sweep might come easily early on. Schneider, who struggled in his first appearance of the series in Game 3, allowed a goal by San Jose’s Brent Burns at 2:41 of the first to give the Sharks an early 1-0 lead.
But the Canucks tied it at 7:54 when Mason Raymond’s shot deflected off the back of San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart and passed goalie Antti Niemi for the score. But it took the Sharks just eight seconds to score a power play goal later in the period, this time Pavelski scoring again on a spin move after possessing a rebound off a shot by Marleau.
Niemi made 32 saves, a pivotal handful of them coming during an extended portion of the first period when the Canucks seemed to be living around the crease of the San Jose goal. Niemi made some crucial stops as the Sharks killed off a penalty on Matt Irwin midway through the first, and was also helped by some nifty defensive work by Stuart.
There weren’t too many good scoring chances in the second period, although the Sharks did muster one promising sequence during their four-minute power play in which Schneider was forced to dive every which way around the crease to keep the puck out of the net.
STAR OF THE GAME:
Joe Pavelski. The center put the Sharks in front late in the first period with a nifty spin move and shot that found the back of the net. He then scored the game-tying goal at 15:33 of the third to force overtime and give the Sharks a chance to win in the extra session.
The Sharks only allowed three penalties, and killed off two of them in the second period with barely a threat of a goal by the Canucks. … San Jose had seven power plays and converted three of them. … Including the regular season, the Sharks went 7-0 against the Canucks this season.
San Jose’s Martin Havlat missed his third straight game with a groin injury. … Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart took a shot to the head in the first period and went back to the locker room. But he was sidelined only briefly and returned to play the rest of the game.
Hits – VAN 20, SJ 21. Faceoffs – VAN 31, SJ 46. Shots – VAN 35, SJ 47.
TBA. The Sharks next opponent will be determined by the results of the other Western Conference quarterfinal series currently taking place. The San Jose-Vancouver series is the first in the NHL playoffs to be completed.
SAN JOSE, California
-- The San Jose Sharks brought out the playoff brooms for the first time in franchise history, beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in overtime Tuesday night at HP Pavilion and sweeping their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with their fourth straight win.
Sharks forward Patrick Marleau scored the game winner at 13:18 of overtime on the power play, knocking a rebound past Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider. Canucks forward Daniel Sedin was in the penalty box for boarding Tommy Wingels.
The Sharks scored three power-play goals for the second straight game, and Marleau's game-winner came on their seventh attempt. He scored one goal in each of the four games.
For the second straight game, Joe Pavelski scored two goals, including one with 4:27 left in regulation that tied the score 3-3 after the Sharks had blown a 2-1 lead in the third period.
The Sharks first-ever sweep came one year after they were bounced by the St. Louis Blues in the first round in five games, the fastest playoff exit in franchise history.
The Canucks have lost back-to-back first-round series since reaching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2011 before losing to Boston. They lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings last year. This year, they were swept in a best-of-7 playoff series for the fourth time in franchise history.
Brent Burns also scored for the Sharks, and goaltender Antti Niemi made 32 saves. Schneider stopped 43 shots.
Burns and Pavelski scored goals in the first period when the Sharks built a 2-1 lead. After a scoreless second period, the Canucks took a 3-2 lead when Alexandre Burrows and Alexander Edler scored back-to-back goals in a span of 1:50.
The Sharks unleashed a furious attack in overtime, sending a flurry of shots at Schneider. Logan Couture nearly ended just over 10 minutes in when he took a pass from Raffi Torres on a 2-1 rush but shot just wide of the right post.
The Canucks were 20 minutes away from being swept before their offense came alive in the third period. Burrows scored a power-play goal at 9:12 with Andrew Desjardins in the penalty box for roughing. He took a pass in the slot from Daniel Sedin and beat Niemi.
Burrows got the puck to Edler in the left circle, and he ripped another shot that found the back of the net at 11:02, giving the Canucks a 3-2 lead.
But the Sharks weren't done. With Kevin Bieksa off for cross-checking, Pavelski backhanded a rebound past Schneider from just to the left of the crease.
The Sharks opened the scoring for the fourth time in as many games when Burns deflected Scott Hannan's blast from the left point past Schneider at 2:41 of the first period. Burns got his stick on the puck in mid-air, and it bounced past Schneider as Sharks forward TJ Galiardi flashed across the crease.
Less than a minute later, the Sharks went on their first power play with Sedin in the penalty box for hooking Torres. But the Canucks killed that power play, then pulled even at 7:54 on Mason Raymond's first goal of the playoffs. Raymond unleashed a long shot from the point that bounced off Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart, who was battling Burrows in front of the net, and went past Niemi.
Pavelski put the Sharks back ahead 2-1 with a power play goal at 14:46. Vancouver's Derek Roy was in the penalty box for boarding Stuart, who appeared to take a blow to the head. He slumped to the ice in pain, then went to the Sharks dressing room but quickly returned to the bench then the ice.
Pavelski got to a rebound in the low slot, spun counter-clockwise and ripped a shot that got past Schneider.
After combining to score three goals in the first period, neither team scored in the second. The Canucks' penalty killers stopped three Sharks power plays, two after defenseman Dan Hamhuis high-sticked Wingels and drew blood at 8:38. Vancouver turned back another power play after Edler went to the box for slashing Adam Burish at 16:35.
San Jose killed the only power play it faced in the second with Scott Gomez in the box for slashing.
The Canucks had a chance early in the third to pull even, but Daniel Sedin hit the post with most of the net open, and the puck bounced back.
Schneider made his second straight start after missing the first two games because of an undisclosed injury. Schneider gave up five goals on 28 shots in San Jose's 5-2 win in Game 3 and was pulled for Roberto Luongo early in the third period with the Canucks trailing 5-1. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, calling Schneider his team's MVP this season, gave him another shot at the Sharks.
In Game 3, the Sharks scored three power play goals in eight attempts as the Canucks took 11 minor penalties to just four for San Jose. The Canucks acknowledged that they needed to play with more discipline, but on Monday, Bieksa accused Sharks captain Joe Thornton and center Logan Couture of "embellishing a lot of calls" and not playing the game with "integrity."
The Sharks accused Bieksa of gamesmanship and once again spent much less time in the penalty box than the Canucks.