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Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Sharks Game 4

Tuesday, 07.05.2013 / 12:00 PM / Features
By Daniel Fung
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Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Sharks Game 4
Playoff Record: 0-3
Last Game: 2-5 L at San Jose (MAY.05.13)

Season Series: 0-2-1
Playoff Series: Trail 0-3
Playoff Record: 3-0
Last Game: 5-2 W vs Vancouver (MAY.05.13)

Season Series: 3-0-0
Playoff Series: Lead 3-0

Storylines

The Set-Up

The Vancouver Canucks (trail series 0-3) will look to avoid being swept for the fourth time in franchise history when they face the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 at the HP Pavilion at San Jose.

What You Need to Know
  • The Canucks got one step closer towards packing it up for the season on Sunday dropping a 5-2 decision in Game 3 to put them on the brink of elimination. A win tonight would mean the Canucks have a chance to host at least one more game in front of their fans on Thursday at Rogers Arena. A loss would send the Canucks into their summer vacation.
  • Vancouver has lost four straight playoff games dating back to last year and now have just one playoff win in their last 10 outings dating back to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. They also have just one playoff win on the road in their last six outings.
  • The Canucks have been swept three times in team history in best-of-seven playoff series. The last time they failed to win even a single game in a best-of-seven series was back in their 2011 Western Conference quarterfinal series against the eventual Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
  • This is the fourth time in Sharks franchise history that they have built up a 3-0 series lead but they have never managed complete a series sweep. The last time they had a 3-0 series lead was in their 2011 Conference semi-final series against Detroit. They nearly squandered that lead, however, as the Red Wings won three in a row to force a deciding Game 7 before the Sharks finally managed to secure the series victory with a 3-2 win in seventh game.
  • The Canucks held a sparsely attended optional practice yesterday with little in the way of lineup news emerging from the session, including which goaltender - Cory Schneider or Roberto Luongo - would be tapped to get the start in perhaps the final game of the year.
  • The Sharks chose not to skate yesterday but it's hard to imagine they make any significant lineup changes given how successful they've been in the first three games of this series. Injured F Martin Havlat will be a game-time decision.
  • Sunday's game marked the third time this season that Canucks G Cory Schneider has surrendered five goals in a game. The other two times he did so, he responded by posting victories in his next two consecutive outings.
  • Sharks F Patrick Marleau continued his playoff hot streak against the Canucks in Game 3 by netting his third goal in three straight games on Sunday. He now has seven goal and 10 points in eight career playoff games versus Vancouver while scoring in at least six of those eight games.
  • The two goals scored nine seconds apart by the Sharks (Couture and Marleau) in the third period of Game 3 were the fastest by a Canucks' opponent in playoff history. It shattered the previous record of 17 seconds set by Colorado's Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic back on April 18, 2011. As far as the Sharks' history books go, it was one second shy of equaling the club mark of eight seconds for fastest two playoff goals. That record was set on April 30, 1998 against Dallas by John Maclean and Ron Sutter.
  • The five goals the Canucks gave up on Sunday were the most in a single playoff game since the Bruins beat them for that same total in Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
Follow the Action

Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen on TSN. Fans in the United States can watch the game on CNBC. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.

Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.

Keys to the Game


The Canucks Win If...

  • They come out with an offense-first mentality. If the Canucks are going to go down in this series, they may as well go down swinging on offence and actually try and see if the old-fashioned run-and-gun style might yield some success for them in this game. After all, it's not like things can get any worse.
  • They get all the bounces. Just about everything that could go wrong for the Canucks in this series has gone wrong. So if the Canucks are to have a chance to force Game 5, then they'll need a night where pretty much everything goes their way – whether that means pucks caroming off stanchions to set up one-timers, pucks bouncing past Sharks' D-men to create breakaways or just good old-fashioned misplays that lead to easy tap-in goals. The Canucks would take anything right about now.
  • They stay out of the penalty box. The Canucks haven't gotten many favours from the officials as they have been shorthanded more times than the Sharks in all three games played so far (overall they have been shorthanded 17 times combined over three games to the Sharks' seven). Their penalty kill, however, hasn't done much either to keep them in games. If Vancouver is to have a chance to extend this series to Game 5, they absolutely have to stay out of the sin bin.


The Sharks Win If...

  • They learn from history. This series may be, for all intents and purposes, over but the Sharks can't afford to slack off even knowing they're pretty much guaranteed to be heading to the second round. The last time they had a 3-0 series lead (2011 versus Detroit) they watched it slip away bit-by-bit until they were pushed all the way to Game 7. They won't want that repeated this time around.
  • They keep punishing the Canucks on the power play. The man-advantage was a big part of San Jose's Game 3 win. The power play got them started in the first period, scored a key insurance marker early in the third period and then rubbed some salt in the wound as well by putting the game far out of reach with a third goal. If the power play can have a repeat performance of Sunday night tonight, then you can be certain the Sharks are officially moving on to Round 2.
  • Niemi finishes the job. There has been so much talk in this series about the Canucks' inability to score that perhaps not enough credit has been given to Niemi for his part in turning aside the top-notch scoring opportunities that the Canucks have managed to generate here and there. Niemi's numbers in this series have been simply sensational – he has a 1.62 GAA and a .945 save percentage – and if he can keep those going in tonight's game then it's lights out for the Canucks.

Ones to Watch

KEVIN BIEKSA

In a series where it seems the Canucks have very little fight left in them, give Kevin Bieksa at least some credit for trying to inject some life into his club on Monday.

The two respective teams in this series might not have hit the ice yesterday but the war of words was certainly on especially from Bieksa who blatantly accused two of the Sharks' top players – Joe Thornton and Logan Couture – of being embellishers. It might have been a smokescreen of sorts but, at the very least, it did seem to draw some attention away from the fact the Canucks are still down 3-0 in this series and in danger of being swept.

Bieksa will look to make some noise again tonight but in a much different way as he leads his team into this do-or-die match-up. The 31-year-old got Vancouver's first goal of this series way back in Game 1 but since then has not only failed to collect a point but has a combined minus-three rating in his last two outings. Bieksa, with 10 career NHL playoff goals to his credit, is Vancouver's all-time leading playoff goal scorer among defencemen.

LOGAN COUTURE

For the last four years the Sharks have watched Logan Couture evolve from a promising prospect to solid NHL contributor. Now, it appears as if Couture's ready to make the jump – or perhaps more of a dive depending on who you ask - to becoming an elite player.

Couture has had a breakout series offensively as he leads his team in goals (3) and shares the team-lead in points (6). His four-point performance in Game 3 was especially noteworthy as he tied a Sharks franchise record for most points in a single playoff game – a feat that had been accomplished three previous times most recently by Jeremy Roenick back in 2008.

Couture will look to have another big night on the scoreboard tonight as his team tries to finish off the Canucks once and for all. Including the six points he has so far in this series, the former Ottawa 67 has 15 goals and 28 points in 41 career post-season outings.

Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at dfung_sports@hotmail.com.