SAN JOSE – One of the Sharks’ biggest strengths in the regular season has carried over into the postseason, particularly in their Game 3 win over Vancouver.
San Jose finished third in the NHL with a combined 34 minutes and 12 seconds more time on the power play than the penalty kill. Their ability to stay out of the box, particularly during their final push that began just prior to the trade deadline, was a major factor in their late season success.
On Monday, the Sharks were 3-for-8 on the power play and were shorthanded just twice in a 5-2 win at HP Pavilion. In the series, they’ve spent nearly 17 more minutes on the power play than on the penalty kill (16:55). To put that in perspective, the St. Louis Blues are second with an eight minute and 15 second discrepancy.
The Canucks have taken a surprising amount of bad penalties through three games (although Kevin Bieksa views it a bit differently), and a couple have come back to bite them.
In Game 1, Zack Kassian’s high hit on Logan Couture led to the Sharks’ game-tying goal in the second period, sparking the Sharks to a 3-1 win. In Game 3, Henrik Sedin’s dumb jab of Couture’s head after a faceoff led to the Sharks’ fifth goal, ending any remote hopes of a comeback by Vancouver.
Adam Burish, who has been involved a few scrums and shoving matches through three games, is fine with how things have played out so far as the Sharks will try and end Vancouver’s season on Tuesday.
“When they want to play that way, go ahead,” Burish said. “Slash me in the back of the legs a million times. Punch me in the back of the head as many times as you want. Maybe the ref is going to miss it this time, but he’s going to see the next three when you do something stupid. I enjoy that. They want to play dirty, they want to play nasty – you saw what happened last game.”
“Maybe it’s going to hurt for a second, but we’re on the power play, and like last game you score a few goals and now you’re kind of laughing at them.”
It hasn’t been perfect, though, as an unnecessary trip by Andrew Desjardins away from the play early in the third period of Game 2 led to Ryan Kesler’s power play goal. It tied the game at 1-1.
Todd McLellan was asked if playing disciplined is even more important against Vancouver.
“It’s obviously their game plan to be physical and try and wear down some guys and target some players. We talk a lot about playing between the whistles and being done,” Todd McLellan said. “I think our discipline has been fairly good. They made us pay for a penalty that was ill advised in Vancouver, and it almost cost us a game. In turn, I think when they’ve crossed the line and been caught, we’ve made them pay, as well.”
Patrick Marleau said: “That’s always something we talk about, especially with the potent power play that they have. Playoff time, you have to try and stay disciplined and not let your emotions get the better of you sometimes after the whistle. … We’re not immune to it, we’ve taken some penalties, but we talk about it and try not to take those penalties after the whistles.”