Sharks 4, Canucks 3 (OT)

Ross McKeon, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

By Ross McKeon
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The first round was a sweeping success.
Patrick Marleau's tap-in power-play goal at 13:18 of overtime gave the Sharks a 4-3 win over the Canucks and a 4-0 series win on Tuesday night. The victory sends San Jose into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which will likely start late next week.
Vancouver's Daniel Sedin boarded Tommy Wingels at 13:03. Joe Thornton put a shot on goal from the slot that trickled to the side of Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider. Marleau pounced on the loose puck for his third career game-winner in playoff overtime.
The Sharks tied the game late in the third period with their second power-play goal of the night at 15:33 when Joe Pavelski backhanded a rebound of a Joe Thornton shot past Schneider. Wingels drew a cross-checking penalty from Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa to set up the opportunity.
Defenseman Alexander Edler gave the visitors a 3-2 lead at 11:02 of the third period with a slap shot from the middle of the blue line over the blocker of San Jose goalie Antti Niemi.
The goal came less than two minutes after the Canucks tied it on Alex Burrows' power-play goal at 9:12. San Jose's Andrew Desjardins went off for roughing to give the visitors their third power play of the night.
Vancouver, which pushed hard the first half of the final period, got rewarded when Daniel Sedin created a 2-on-1 low against San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart before feeding in front where Burrows chipped his second goal of the series past Niemi.
The Sharks were kicking themselves during the second intermission for failing to take advantage of three middle-session power plays, especially a mid-period four-minute advantage the result of Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis opening a cut on the lip of Wingels during a double-minor high stick.
San Jose peppered Schneider with three shots during the first of consecutive power plays, and Thornton fanned from the weakside when facing an open net during a four-shot second power play.
If that wasn't enough, Schneider was called upon again to keep his team in the series when Edler tripped Adam Burish at 16:35. San Jose mustered two shots on the resulting power play, but failed to extend its one-goal lead.
The Sharks owned a 2-1 lead after the opening 20 minutes, marked by fast skating, plenty of offensive chances for both sides and a 13-11 edge in shots for Vancouver.
Pavelski scored a tiebreaking goal on the power play at 14:52 just eight seconds after Vancouver's Derek Roy boarded Stuart. Pavelski connected on a turn-around shot from the edge of the right circle after a Marleau drive from the left point ricocheted off of teammate Logan Couture to the slot just over the stick of Burrows.
The Canucks tied the game 1-1 at 7:54 when Mason Raymond's drive from the center of the blue line caromed off of Stuart and past Niemi. Stuart was battling Burrows in front of the net.
San Jose scored the first goal of the game at 2:41 when Brent Burns redirected a point drive by Scott Hannan past Schneider on San Jose's third shot on goal.
NOTES: On his decision to start Schneider over Roberto Luongo in Game 4 after Schneider allowed five goals in his first game back from injury Sunday, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said: "Cory, in my opinion, is our MVP. He's one of the reasons why we got into the playoffs. He's had great bounce-back games, and he's been outstanding this year. I think our group has total faith in both goaltenders, but they've got a lot of faith in Cory, and I've got a lot of faith in him." ... Sharks coach Todd McLellan shot back at Bieksa after the Canucks defenseman accused Thornton and Couture of embellishing. "If we go back now to look at the series, we've been called cheaters in Game 1, we've been called embellishing Canadians after Game 3," McLellan said. "If the series goes any deeper, we may be accused of biting, eventually." ... Marleau extended his streak of having at least one point in each of his career playoff games against Vancouver, which now numbers nine games. He has a total of eight goals and four assists. ... NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance for Game 4.

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