Vancouver @ San Jose (NBC) – 3 p.m. ET; Canucks lead series 2-1
Final scores don’t always tell the story of a game. That was certainly the case in the San Jose Sharks’ 4-3 Game 3 win against the Vancouver Canucks. If you look at that final tally, it looks like it was a lot closer than most of the contest really was. The Sharks starkly outplayed the Canucks for most of that game, building 3-0 and 4-1 leads before a bonehead Jamie McGinn major penalty allowed Vancouver to make a late surge in the third period.
For the Sharks to tie up the series, they want at least three trends to continue.
1. They hope to continue their red-hot special teams play, particularly if the Canucks’ power play struggles like he did during Game 3. In an odd way, San Jose’s advantage has probably been a bit greater than their already considerable edge on the PP. The Sharks are 6 for 13 while the Canucks are 6 for 18 in the series, but two of Vancouver’s goals came on that McGinn major while San Jose started the series 5 for 5. At times, it seems like San Jose’s power play can almost score at will.
2. The Sharks hope that Patrick Marleau continues his hot streak. After going pointless in the first six games of the team’s second round series against the Detroit Red Wings, Marleau has been on a tear. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 and has five goals in his last four games. He has six points in that four-game span and also had five points in a four-game streak against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. In the last two playoff runs, Marleau’s offense seems to come in random waves. The Sharks hope he keeps that current flowing in Game 4.
3. San Jose hopes that Roberto Luongo keeps losing at the Shark Tank. As NHL.com points out, Bobby Lou hasn’t won a game in San Jose since April 7, 2007. That sounds like a considerable amount of time since the two teams play in the Western Conference, but it’s a bit misleading. He’s only played in four games at HP Pavilion since that ’07 win, going 0-3-1 in that span. Still, the playoffs are all about small samples anyway, so another road loss against the Sharks could make this a more troubling trend.
When it comes down to it, the Sharks want one trend to continue above all else: they want to win again. Going down 3-1 might be too big of a burden for San Jose, especially against a team as talented as the Canucks. We’ll see if San Jose stays hot or will be forced to shoot for a tougher streak: three consecutive wins.