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Canucks capitalize on power plays, move a win away from Final

Sean Leahy
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The story of Game 4 between the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks can be summed up with one game stat:

POWERPLAYS
San Jose 0-for-5
Vancouver 3-for-5

Like Bourne noted earlier, with the series getting deeper, discipline would be a major factor and it showed again today. For another game, Vancouver began a march to the penalty box, taking the first five in Game 4, but the Sharks' inability to capitalize on those opportunities cost them dearly as the Canucks took a 3-1 series lead after a 4-2 victory.

As we've seen many times in the NHL, any time a team takes multiple penalties in a row, you just know things will swing the other way soon enough and they sure did for the Canucks. San Jose took four penalties in a 2:46 span in the second period, giving Vancouver three straight 5-on-3 powerplays -- something that according to the Elias Stats Bureau has never happened in a playoff game before -- that turned the game for good.

Scoring three times in 115 seconds, the Canucks put themselves one win away from moving on to the Stanley Cup final for the time since 1994 and gave them the opportunity to do it on home ice at Rogers Arena on Tuesday night.

Ryan Kesler opened the scoring with his first goal of the series, but the death blow was Sami Salo's pair of goals that came, of course, on the power play. The second was just a rocket of a shot past Antti Niemi:

In the process of the Canucks building a 4-0 lead, Henrik Sedin quietly took over the NHL playoff scoring lead by assisting on all four goals with his final helper beautifully placed between Niemi's legs to Alex Burrows.

For the first time since 2007 when the Ottawa Senators did it last, the Canucks will have an opportunity to be Canada's entry into the Stanley Cup final. Since they came within an overtime of blowing a 3-0 series lead in the first round to the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver has played the kind of championship-caliber hockey many expected them to at this point in the season.

The Canucks haven't been able to close out a series the first time they get the opportunity to do so on home ice this postseason. Roger Arena will be as loud as it was when Burrows' goal won Game 7 against the Blackhawks and Vancouver can't again give a team a lifeline at this stage of the game.

San Jose will enter Game 5 with the questionable status of Joe Thornton who left the game after taking a hit from Raffi Torres in the third period. No update was given postgame, but unless he loses a limb, you have to believe he'll be in the lineup in an elimination game. How much he can contribute remains to be seen, but there's enough depth in the San Jose lineup to help carry the load should Thornton be scratched or not at 100-percent.

When asked if his team has the talent to come back down 3-1 in the series, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan replied simply, "We're gonna find out".

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