The San Jose Sharks gave fans a rollercoaster ride of emotions during the regular season before making the playoffs. They started the season off hot and won 7 straight before then dropping 7. In the second half of the season, they had another 7 game winning streak. At the end of the season, the result was the 6th seed in the Western Conference and meeting the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks earned the 3rd seed by winning their division. Despite the differences in seeding, the teams were fairly evenly matched. In fact, San Jose won all three games against the Canucks during the regular season.
Last night the Sharks had a chance to do something no other team in the first round of the playoffs did: move onto the second round with a sweep. The Sharks won both games up in Vancouver, both times coming from behind to end up winning. Game 3 was a much more convincing win as Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski each put up 2 goals in the 5-2 win.
Game for started out fast for the Sharks. Less than 3 minutes into the game, Brent Burns tipped a shot in for his first goal of the playoffs. The assists went to Scott Hannan and Joe Thornton. Later that same period, the Canucks evened the score after Mason Raymond added his first goal of the playoffs on a wrist shot assisted by Dan Hamhuis. At 14:44 of the first period, the Sharks capitalized on the powerplay for the first time that game. Just 8 seconds after Derek Roy was called for boarding Brad Stuart, Pavelski found the back of the net for the third time in the post season. They took the 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Despite a lot of shots in the second period for the Sharks, they could not get another goal past Cory Schneider. The two teams would start the third period with the Sharks still up 2-1. At the 8:00 mark of the third period, Sharks forward Andrew Desjardins took a penalty for roughing. About halfway through the period, Alex Burrows capitalized on the power play opportunity. The assists went to Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Just two minutes later, the Canucks took their first lead of the game when a slapshot from Alexander Edler beat Antii Niemi.
The Sharks were down, but did not give up hope on the sweep. Instead, they showed why you cannot take penalties against them. Just 34 seconds into Kevin Bieksa’s penalty for cross checking, Joe Pavelski put his second goal of the night past Schneider. Both of his goals came on the power play.
The end of regulation came with the game still tied. It was the second game in the series that the Sharks had come back to force an extra period. Once again, the Sharks showed how strong they are on the power play. Patrick Marleau became the overtime hero fifteen seconds into Daniel Sedin’s penalty. They improved to 3 for 7 on the power play for that game and 7 for 20 on the series.
With the win over the Canucks, the Sharks won the series 4-0 and became the first team to advance to the second round. They will likely have to wait at least a week until their next series starts. While they are waiting, they can celebrate their goaltender, Antii Niemi, being one of the three finalists for the Vezina. He will be competing against Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers and Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets for the title as the best goaltender from the regular season.