SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - After managing to stay even with San Jose despite playing short-handed for almost half of the game's first 24 minutes, the Vancouver Canucks proved to be no match for the Sharks when they got three straight chances with a two-man advantage.
Sami Salo scored twice and Ryan Kesler added another during a dizzying two-minute stretch of three straight five-on-three power plays that gave the Canucks a 4-2 victory in Game 4 on Sunday and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference final.
Henrik Sedin helped set up the three goals in a span of 1:55 as the Canucks needed only 37 seconds on the three 5-on-3 situations to become the first team in NHL history to score three goals with a two-man advantage in the playoffs.
``When you give Henrik that much open time, he's going to find a way to make plays,' teammate Alexandre Burrows said. ``We have great shooters on that power play and it's nice to see them. He's a magical player the way he's able to hold on to that puck and make plays.'
Sedin also assisted on Burrows' even-strength goal in the third period to set a franchise record for assists in a game, increasing his league-leading total to 19 points this postseason.
Daniel Sedin added three assists, and Roberto Luongo made 33 saves for the Canucks, who can reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1994 by winning Game 5 at home Tuesday. Vancouver had just 13 shots all game, scoring on four of its seven shots in the final two periods.
The Sharks had no answer for the Sedins, who have combined for 15 points in four games this series after having just seven points and a minus-10 rating in six games against Nashville the previous round.
``We're both believers in if you work hard, you do the right thing, it's going to turn around,' Henrik said. ``You got to hang in there and hope the other guys are playing great. They've been doing that. So that's what we need. We need different guys to step up each series. That's why we're here.'
Andrew Desjardins and Ryane Clowe had third-period goals for the Sharks, who failed to capitalize on five early power-play chances and were done in with their run of penalties.
``You obviously have to score on at least one of those and maybe two,' Sharks forward Dany Heatley said. ``We showed spurts but not enough to win. Both teams took a lot of penalties. They scored on their power plays, we didn't.'
In a series dominated by special teams play, this game was no different with nearly 15 of the first 33 minutes being spent with a team on the power play.
That's where the Canucks dominated in a turnabout from their 4-3 loss in Game 3. They allowed three power-play goals in that game and failed to convert during 1:55 of 5-on-3 time in the second period.
The Canucks solved both of those issues despite being without injured defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome. First, they killed off five straight minor penalties to open the game as they spent 10:00 of the first 24:06 short-handed.
The Sharks, who converted their first five power-play chances this series, struggled to set up in the offensive zone with the man advantage Sunday. When they did get into the Vancouver end, Luongo made eight saves on the five power plays and gave San Jose few chances at rebounds.
``The passing was off. The receiving was off. The timing was off,' San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. ``There wasn't much rhythm.'
The game was decided when the Sharks were called for four minor penalties in a span of 2:46 midway through the second.
With Heatley already in the box for high-sticking, Torrey Mitchell got called for hooking to give Vancouver its first two-man advantage. The Canucks took just 10 seconds to capitalize with Kesler beating Antti Niemi with a one-timer from the circle off a pass from Salo.
Just 1:23 later, the Sharks got caught with too many men on the ice, giving Vancouver its second two-man advantage. This time, it took the Canucks 16 seconds to score when Salo took a pass from Henrik Sedin and blasted it past Niemi from just inside the blue line.
After the ensuing faceoff, San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray hit the puck over the glass for a delay of game call. Ten seconds later, Salo capped the outburst with a big shot from between the circles as the Canucks ended up scoring on three of their four shots in the second period.
Salo capitalized on his chance with the top power-play unit with Ehrhoff out of the lineup.
``I don't think it matters who is playing the point when (Henrik) has the puck,' Salo said.
Notes: The three goals were the fastest in the playoffs for the Canucks, beating the previous mark of 2:18 against Calgary in 1989. ... Vancouver scored only one 5-on-3 goal during the regular season. ... Sharks captain Joe Thornton left in the third period after being hit into the boards by Raffi Torres.
The Associated Press News Service
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