Patrick Marleau had two goals and an assist, Joe Thornton had three assists, and Antti Niemi stopped 27 of 30 shots as the San Jose Sharks hung on to beat the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 4-3 in Game 3 of last night's Western Conference Final.
Much talk surrounded the play of the San Jose Sharks after an embarrassing effort in Game 2 that saw the Canucks score four goals in the third period for a convincing 7-3 win. The Sharks responded in Game 3 with a bang as they dominated the play in the first period, outshooting the Canucks 16-8 and getting off to an early 3-0 lead.
Patrick Marleau opened the scoring just under four minutes into the game when he took a pretty feed in front of the net from Thornton and slid it through Roberto Luongo's pads.
The Sharks were full of energy to start, and shortly after Canucks' defenseman Christian Ehrhoff took a 4 minute double-minor for high-sticking Torrey Mitchell.
After the first minute of the powerplay passed without much action, Dan Boyle got a shot through from the point and Ryan Clowe tapped in the rebound on the doorstep to stretch the lead to two.
The Canucks killed off the second minor, but with less than three minutes to go in the opening frame Marleau struck again, this time on the breakaway.
Marleau took a lead pass from Thornton and sprung in on Luongo, putting a well-placed shot over Luongo's left shoulder to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead at the end of the 1st period.
A scoreless second period saw a total of seven minor penalties called on both teams, including a holding the stick penalty for each team just over a minute apart.
The Canucks saw the game begin to slip away after failing to reply in the 2nd, and just 1:09 into the third period Alex Burrows finally got Vancouver on the board.
Burrows picked up a loose puck off a broken rush by Kevin Bieksa and beat Niemi from the slot for his fifth goal of the post-season.
The Sharks restored the three goal lead just five minutes later on a 5-on-3, as Dan Boyle snuck a point shot through Luongo's legs with both Burrows and Ryan Kesler in the penalty box.
The game seemed to be winding down for the Sharks until forward Jamie Mcginn was called for a 5 minute major penalty for boarding after throwing a big hit on Vancouver's Aaron Rome.
The Canucks answered early as Henrik Sedin spotted Dan Hamhuis for a one-timer that beat Niemi and brought Vancouver back within two.
Minutes later on the same powerplay, a Kevin Bieksa shot deflected off of Sharks defenseman Ian White and redirected past Niemi, closing the gap to one with under three minutes to play.
But with the net empty the Canucks couldn't get a decent shot through, and took two penalties late in the game to seal the deal for San Jose.
The Sharks hung onto their early lead and cut the series lead down to 2-1, with Game 4 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose on Sunday.
Dan Boyle had two points in the end with a goal and an assist, while no player on the Canucks recorded more than a point.
Despite having a quiet night offensively, Ryan Kesler was over 70% at the face-off circle (19 for 28), but the Canucks will need more out of him if they want a better effort come Sunday.
After a slow start early in the playoffs, Henrik Sedin had another point, giving him 10 in his last six games, but brother Daniel has had a harder time finding the scoresheet this post-season, with just 5 points over his last 10.
Ben Eager was out of the lineup for San Jose after taking 20 minutes in penalties following his hit on Daniel Sedin and antics afterwards.
Alexandre Bolduc and Tanner Glass made it into the Vancouver lineup, as rookie Cody Hodgson and Jeff Tambellini were healthy scratches.
Game 4 will be played on Sunday at 3 PM.