Sharks Know Challenge of Closing out Series

Monday, 05.6.2013 / 12:06 PM PT / News
By Jonathan Okanes  - Staff Writer
X
Share with your Friends


Sharks Know Challenge of Closing out Series


There’s a popular theory that the fourth win is the hardest one to get in a best-of-seven playoff series.

The Sharks are the perfect team to substantiate that.

Two years ago, San Jose raced out to a 3-0 lead against Detroit in the Western Conference Semifinals, only to watch the Red Wings claw back to force a winner-take-all Game 7. The Sharks held on, but undoubtedly learned a hard lesson that a series is indeed not over until that fourth win is registered.



And you can expect Sharks coach Todd McLellan to remind his team off that lesson now that they have won the first three games in their Western Conference Quarterfinal Series against the Vancouver Canucks.

“Tomorrow, I will remind them that the last time we were in this situation, we had to play seven,” McLellan said after Sunday night’s 5-2 victory in Game 3. “There’s a lot of hockey left between these two teams.”

The Sharks obviously would prefer there isn’t quite so much hockey left against the Canucks. If they can close out the series in a sweep Tuesday night at HP Pavilion – where they lost just twice in regulation during the regular season and played in front of a ear-piercing sellout crowd Sunday – they would set themselves up for an extended rest before they commenced the Western Conference Semifinals.

But San Jose obviously doesn’t expect to show up Tuesday and just tango into the next round. Although the Sharks have been the better team in the series, the Canucks arguably played better for more of Game 2 and were fairly even with San Jose in Game 1. Sunday, Vancouver was blindsided by a three-goal flurry by the Sharks in 2 minutes, 27 seconds, a stretch that made either team’s level of almost
irrelevant for the final 16 minutes.

“They are going to give everything they have,” said Sharks center Logan Couture, who had a four-point on Sunday with two power play goals and two assists. “Their season is on the line. They’re going to be
their best. We know that. We expect that. We are ready for a battle.”

When the Sharks established their 3-0 series lead against the Red Wings in 2011, they won all three games by one goal and two took overtime. The Red Wings then won two of the next three by one goal. San Jose won the decider, 3-2.

“They were very much like (the Canucks),” McLellan said. “They are experienced. They had won a Cup, they had been to the Finals. There was zero give-up or panic on their behalf. That series reminds me a little bit of this one. It was close all the way through. Vancouver is going to do the same thing. They have a lot o talent and a lot of veteran players that have played a long time. They are going to come and play. If we don’t, we’ll be in trouble.”

Of course, the Sharks do have some things going for them. They still have yet to lose to the Canucks this season – they won all three meetings between the teams during the regular season. And Game 4 is at home, where San Jose is clearly at its best.

“It’s a tough place to play here,” Sharks center Joe Thornton said. “It’s intimidating to come and play here. We’re hard to play against at home. We love playing at home. Our home record speaks for itself. We play very, very hard here. Game 4 is going to be the biggest game of the year for us.”

Added McLellan: “It feels good playing in the building. (Joe Pavelski) said after the game that the fans become his legs sometimes because they are so energizing, so excited about the game. You kind of ride on that for awhile. That certainly helps.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 37 33 12 70
L. Couture 82 27 40 -6 67
J. Thornton 78 16 49 -4 65
B. Burns 82 17 43 -9 60
P. Marleau 82 19 38 -17 57
T. Wingels 75 15 21 -7 36
T. Hertl 82 13 18 -5 31
M. Nieto 72 10 17 -12 27
M. Karlsson 53 13 11 -3 24
M. Vlasic 70 9 14 12 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 31 23 7 .914 2.59
A. Stalock 8 9 2 .902 2.62
Image Map