Patrick Marleau #12 (left), Logan Couture #39, Joe Pavelski #8 and Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks celebrate after Joe Pavelski #8 scored a first period power play goal.
Photograph by: Christian Petersen, Getty Images
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dead Team Skating.
That pretty much describes the Vancouver Canucks, who for the second straight year find themselves down 3-0 in a first-round playoff series.
The San Jose Sharks struck for three quick goals early in the third period Sunday night to beat the Canucks 5-2 before a raucous crowd at the HP Pavilion.
It was Stinko de Mayo on Cinco de Mayo for the Canucks, who were awful. The Sharks will try and complete a four-game sweep here on Tuesday night (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1040). Based on what happened here Sunday night, you have to like their chances.
Cory Schneider, after a two-week absence due to an undisclosed injury, started in goal for the Canucks. But he didn't finish the game.
Schneider was chased at 4:07 of the third when Logan Couture scored his second of the period. Earlier in the third, Couture and Patrick Marleau had scored goals nine seconds apart to blow the game open.
Schneider whiffed on a Couture shot from the top of the left circle at the 1:40 mark on a San Jose power play. That gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead. Marleau then wheeled into the Vancouver zone and put a shot between Schneider's legs.
Couture, on another San Jose power play, put another one between Schneider's legs and that was the end of the night for him. He was replaced by Roberto Luongo.
"I felt pretty good until the start of the third period," Schneider said. "I just didn't do enough, didn't keep my team in it, didn't give them a chance to win. I just let them down in a big way. It's a real disappointing feeling.
"They were working hard enough to tie that game and get a win. But when you give up a couple of goals like that it really doesn't do your teammates any favours."
Schneider needed some time to compose himself before he did his dressing room scrum with the media. And during that time, Luongo came over to whisper words of encouragement.
"It's not fun to have something like that happen." said Luongo, who speaks from experience. "But at the same time, we have to get ready for the next game."
The question now becomes, who starts Game 4.
"If I'm called upon, I'll be ready." Luongo said. "If not, Cory will be ready as well. It's his team and whatever happens I will be 100 per cent supportive. We just have to make sure when we come to the rink, starting tomorrow, we are 100 per cent dedicated to winning the hockey game, doing whatever it takes whether that is taking a punch in the face, blocking a shot with your teeth. If we have 20 guys ready to do that in the next game, I like our chances."
Spotty goaltending was only part of the story Sunday night. Vancouver, again, could not score enough goals.
The Canucks have scored 17 goals in their last 13 playoff games and have lost 11 of them. They have only scored five goals in the first three games of this series. Two of those came from defencemen.
"The third period wasn't characteristic of us at all," said Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler. "Especially with what was on the line. We have to focus, just focus on shift to shift and know you can be a determining factor. It doesn't matter if you play five minutes or 30 minutes. You can be a difference every shift. We have to move past this.
"We have to get 20 guys to work hard," Kesler said. "We have to out-will these guys all over the ice … I’ve got (to be) a lot better and I know everyone in this room has (to be) a lot better. Our backs are against the wall and we can either crumble or come back and come out swinging … I am not going down easy, that's for sure."
Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead with his second of the night at 7:20 of the second period when he got in front of Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa and tipped in a shot from the right point by Tommy Wingels.
Pavelski could have had a hat trick at that point. Moments earlier, Schneider robbed him with a brilliant right pad save on a one-timer from the slot.
The Canucks' top line finally made a contribution to cut the San Jose lead in half. Henrik Sedin fed Alex Burrows a cross-ice pass off the rush and Burrows beat San Jose goalie Antti Niemi high to the stick side from the left circle at 11:07 of the second.
There was no faulting the Canucks' work ethic in the first period, but again there was no bottom line. The Sharks led 1-0 after 20 minutes on a Pavelski goal at 14:08 that came when San Jose was enjoying a 5-on-3 power play.
With Dale Weise off for roughing and Dan Hamhuis in the box for slashing, Joe Thornton, Marleau and Pavelski combined on a tic-tac-toe play that ended with Pavelski chipping the puck past Schneider.
Hamhuis made it 5-2 at 13:12 of the third when he beat Niemi high to the stick side from the left circle.
Coach Alain Vigneault juggled his forward lines, but nothing seems to work for a team that not so long ago was the highest scoring team in the NHL. He had Ryan Kesler between Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen, while Derek Roy centred Zack Kassian and Mason Raymond. Max Lapierre dropped down to play with Tom Sestito and Dale Weise. Sestito replaced Andrew Ebbett in the Vancouver lineup.
"We were fine going into the third period," Vigneault said. "They had a power play we had to kill and we were almost there. Obviously I'm not happy with how we reacted after that.”
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