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Sharks Know Challenge of Closing out Series

Monday, 05.06.2013 / 3:06 PM / News
By Jonathan Okanes  - Staff Writer
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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 ANA 48 32 10 6 143 124 70
2 NSH 46 31 10 5 141 107 67
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 47 30 15 2 148 108 62
5 WPG 49 26 15 8 138 122 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 46 26 17 3 124 118 55
8 CGY 48 26 19 3 140 126 55
9 LAK 47 20 15 12 129 126 52
10 COL 49 20 18 11 128 141 51
11 DAL 47 21 19 7 146 154 49
12 MIN 47 21 20 6 130 138 48
13 ARI 47 16 25 6 108 160 38
14 EDM 48 12 27 9 110 160 33

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 48 24 18 10 42
L. Couture 48 18 24 2 42
J. Thornton 44 10 27 0 37
B. Burns 48 11 24 -6 35
P. Marleau 48 9 24 -10 33
T. Wingels 47 11 14 -2 25
J. Braun 47 1 18 4 19
T. Hertl 48 8 9 -2 17
M. Vlasic 47 6 10 13 16
J. Sheppard 42 4 9 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 19 11 5 .912 2.57
A. Stalock 5 5 1 .905 2.65
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