Kurz's Instant Replay: Sharks eye sweep with 5-2 victory
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SAN JOSE – Although goaltending wasn’t at all the reason the Vancouver Canucks lost the first two games of their first round series with the Sharks, head coach Alain Vigneault decided to put a healthy Cory Schneider in the net for Game 3, in place of Roberto Luongo.

The decision backfired. Big time.

The Sharks put five goals past Schneider, including three in a two minute 27 second span early in the third period, to cruise to a 5-2 win over Vancouver on Sunday night at HP Pavilion.

The Sharks had a 2-1 lead entering the third, when Logan Couture’s shot on a power play beat Schneider to the far side on an attempt that should have been routinely stopped. Nine seconds later, Couture flipped a pass to Patrick Marleau, who deposited his third goal in as many playoff games while falling to the ice between the circles.

San Jose went back to the power play when Henrik Sedin jabbed Couture in the head after a faceoff, and Couture scored his third of the series and second of the night at 4:07.

Luongo replaced Schneider at that point.

Couture finished with four points (2g, 2a), while Joe Pavelski had three points, including goals in each of the first two periods. It was Pavelski’s fourth career two-goal playoff game.

San Jose can complete the series sweep at home on Tuesday. The Sharks have been ahead 3-0 in a series three times, winning all three, but requiring seven games to beat the Red Wings in 2011. They have never swept a playoff series.

Teams that have fallen behind 3-0 have come back to win a best-of-seven series just three times in NHL history, the most recent coming in 2010 (Philadelphia over Boston).

The Sharks took advantage of a long two-man advantage to take a first period lead, on penalties to Dale Weise and Dan Hamhuis just 24 seconds apart.

Joe Thornton patiently held on to the puck in the circle, and found Couture in the slot. Couture passed to Pavelski at the side of the net, and Pavelski’s deflection over Schneider’s shoulder at 14:08 gave San Jose the lead.

Pavelski’s second goal of the game made it 2-0 in the second period. He tipped a floating wrist shot by Tommy Wingels from the boards through Schneider’s legs at 7:20.

The Canucks got on the board midway through the second when their top line finally made an impact at even-strength. Henrik Sedin slammed on the breaks on a two-on-two rush and found Alex Burrows for a redirection at 11:07. It was the first even strength goal for Vancouver’s top line.

Thornton nearly gave the Sharks their two-goal cushion back on a partial breakaway in the closing seconds. He absorbed a cross-check from Jannik Hansen to give the Sharks a power play that carried over into the third period, leading to Couture’s first goal.

Hamhuis capped the scoring at 13:12 of the third, when it was much too late for Vancouver to mount any sort of comeback.

Special teams
The Sharks went 0-for-5 on the power play in Game 2, but put the game away in the third period with Couture’s two markers. They finished 3-for-8, and are 4-for-17 in the series.

Their three goals in a playoff game tied a franchise record.

The Canucks were 0-for-2. Maxim Lapierre took three of Vancouver’s 10 minors.

In goal
Antti Niemi made 28 saves for his third victory.

Schneider made 23 saves on 28 shots before he was pulled for Luongo, who stopped all 10 shots he faced.

Schneider, who went 0-2-1 against San Jose in the regular season, played for the first time since April 22. He missed the last two games of the regular season and first two games of the series with an undisclosed injury.

Scott Gomez played for the first time since April 23, when he was run over by the Dallas Stars’ Erik Cole. He skated on the fourth line with Adam Burish and James Sheppard, and also saw time on the second power play unit.

The Canucks inserted Tom Sestito for Andrew Ebbett, their only change from Game 2 besides the starting goaltender.

Up next
Game 4 is at HP Pavilion on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Game 5, if necessary, is back at Rogers Arena on Thursday at 7 p.m.