Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Sharks battle back into series

Categories: San Jose Sharks, VAN vs. SJS, Vancouver Canucks

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The Sharks cut Vancouver's series lead to 2-1. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) The Sharks cut Vancouver's series lead to 2-1. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
San Jose got back into the West final in Game 3 with a gumption and purpose that had been missing from its games in Vancouver, but Lord only knows how this series plays out now.

The Canucks may be missing their third pair of defencemen, after injuries to Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome. Jamie McGinn, who hit both Ehrhoff and Rome, may be suspended for the Rome hit after getting a major and game misconduct, his second of the post-season.

And Logan Couture got nailed accidentally by teammate Ryane Clowe early in the second period and did not play again.

But in all, San Jose won Game 3 by crushing Vancouver early, playing an even second period and holding on through a harrowing third. On a night with 17 power plays, a 5-on-3 situation for each team (which San Jose killed and Vancouver did not), 68 shots and 72 more blocked and missed shots, the Sharks got what they needed when they needed it, and held on when Vancouver got what it needed.

Patrick Marleau scored twice in the Sharks' three-goal first period, his fourth and fifth in four games, and with his assist and two more from Joe Thornton, the oft-maligned No. 1 line combined for five of San Jose's 11 points.

And Antti Niemi, so buffeted against Los Angeles, is now becoming the goalie of the playoffs after another superb effort under heavy Canuck fire. Two of the three goals came during McGinn's major penalty, but he was sensational during the 5-on-3 advantage created by successive penalties by Andrew Desjardins in 4:05, sandwiched around a Thornton holding-the-stick call.

San Jose saved itself the ignominy of going down 3-0 in this series by playing its best hockey just long enough. But since any sort of momentum is now gone from either side, and as each team now has its lack-of-composure game, we can get down to finding who is really whom in this series.

A series which at least now will require another trip to Vancouver.

Note: Ehrhoff and Rome are questionable, Couture is probable for Sunday. At least we think so. You know what liars coaches can often be.

Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe-Logan Couture-Dany Heatley
Torrey Mitchell-Joe Pavelski-Kyle Wellwood
Jamie McGinn-Andrew Desjardins-Jamal Mayers

Douglas Murray-Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Niclas Wallin
Kent Huskins-Ian White

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki