for this game

Canucks beat Sharks, take 3-1 lead in Western finals

May 22, 2011 - 11:14 PM
San Jose, CA (Sports Network) - Sami Salo tallied two power-play goals and assisted on another as the Vancouver Canucks used special-teams play to take a 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

The victory gives Vancouver a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, and the franchise is just one step away from its first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994.

"We're excited obviously. But the series is far from over," said Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo. "We know that as we've seen in the first two series, the last one is always the toughest one to win."

Henrik Sedin posted four assists, his brother Daniel added three helpers while Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows each had a goal to help Vancouver bounce back from a 4-3 loss on Friday. Luongo stopped 33-of-35 shots.

The series now heads back to Vancouver where the Canucks will take their first shot at wrapping up the set in Game 5 on Tuesday.

Andrew Desjardins and Ryane Clowe each scored a goal while Antti Niemi was tagged for all four goals on 13 shots for the Sharks, who fell to 3-11 all-time in conference final games.

The story of the game was special teams as Vancouver gave San Jose a man advantage just 26 seconds in and proceeded to give up four more power plays through the early part of the second period.

However, the Sharks were unable to take advantage of any of the power plays and four minutes after Dan Hamhuis' hooking minor expired, the Sharks took four minors over a 2:46 span to give Vancouver three 5-on-3 advantages.

"Well, obviously in any hockey game you prepare your power play and your penalty killing," said Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault. "We killed the penalties that we had to kill at the beginning. I thought that gave us a little bit of momentum and confidence."

Unlike the Sharks, the Canucks took full advantage of their chances and after the power plays were over, the team held a 3-0 advantage.

Dany Heatley was called for high sticking at 8:15 and Torrey Mitchell was whistled for hooking at the 9:05 mark.

After winning the left circle faceoff following the Mitchell call, the Canucks controlled the puck and used perimeter passing to set up Kesler. Henrik Sedin sent the disc from the low right circle to the high slot where Salo immediately passed it over to the left circle for a one-timer by Kesler at the 9:16 mark.

With Mitchell still in the box, San Jose took a too many men on the ice minor at 10:39 and the Canucks made it a 2-0 game 16 seconds later.

Henrik Sedin, passing from the same spot, set up a Salo one-timer in the slot.

The next Shark to get whistled was Douglas Murray, who was sent to the box for a delay of game and it was the Sedin-Salo combination again hooking up for a goal with 8:49 to play in the second for a 3-0 lead.

"In two and a half minutes, we kept marching to the box, they kept scoring," said San Jose head coach Todd McLellan. "It's hard to argue the too many men on the ice penalty. It's hard to argue the shooting the puck out of the play. I can't sit here and whine and bitch about the officiating, because it had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was the team in the white that created that mess."

It was a 4-0 game 5:43 into the third as Henrik Sedin and Burrows skated into the San Jose end on a 2-on-1. Charging down the right side, Sedin drew Niemi out of his net and slid the disc between the pads of the goaltender over to the left where Burrows had an easy tap-in.

San Jose got on the board just over a minute later when Kent Huskins threw a shot on net that was redirected in by Desjardins to make it a 4-1 contest.

The Sharks got another one with 4:05 to play when Clowe beat Luongo to the glove side from the slot, but San Jose was unable to get any closer and now faces elimination.

Game Notes

The Canucks were 3-for-5 on the power play while San Jose went 0-for-5...With two goals and 17 assists, Henrik Sedin leads the playoffs in points...Vancouver defensemen Aaron Rome and Christian Ehrhoff, both of whom were knocked out of Game 3 by San Jose forward Jamie McGinn, missed Game 4...Vancouver is now 5-3 on the road in the playoffs while San Jose fell to 5-4 on home ice in the postseason..San Jose captain Joe Thornton left the game in the third period after being hit by Raffi Torres.