SAN JOSE, Calif. – One year after another disappointing early playoff exit, Patrick Marleau gave the San Jose Sharks a new post-season experience.
Marleau scored a power-play goal 13:18 into overtime and the Sharks completed their first playoff sweep in franchise history, beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Now instead of facing questions about their playoff fortitude like they did a year ago following a five-game loss in the first round to St. Louis, the Sharks will get a few days to rest up before the second round following their third comeback win of the series.
“We just plugged away,” captain Joe Thornton said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is or what time of the game it’s at. We just keep plugging away. We just have so much fun together. We’re really enjoying it and we want to keep it going as long as we can.
Joe Pavelski scored his second power-play goal of the game to tie it with 4:27 left in regulation. Brent Burns also scored, Thornton had three assists and Antti Niemi made 32 saves for the Sharks.
Mason Raymond, Alex Burrows and Alexander Edler scored for the Canucks, who were unable to hold onto a late third-period lead for the second time this series and head into the off-season after a second straight first-round exit with many questions surrounding coach Alain Vigneault and the rest of the franchise.
“This year, this is not the way we wanted to end,” captain Henrik Sedin said. “It was almost like we were a first time playoff team going to the box too many times. A lot of guys have been together for a long time. It’s very disappointing because you only have so many chances.”
Cory Schneider made 43 saves, but gave up the rebound that led to Marleau’s series-clinching goal after Daniel Sedin was sent off for boarding Tommy Wingels on a call that irked the Canucks. Daniel Sedin got a game misconduct penalty after the game for abusive language.
“It’s the playoffs, it’s shoulder to shoulder. I didn’t talk to the ref, I screamed. I apologized to him later. But it was a bad call,” Daniel Sedin said. “We didn’t lose the series on that one call. We lost it earlier in the series.”
The Sharks came through with their third power-play goal of the night and seventh of the series to win it. Thornton’s shot hit off Schneider and the puck was bouncing in the crease when Marleau raced in and just got his stick on it to score the winner, setting off a wild celebration at the Shark Tank.
“I was kind of yelling for him to shoot it,” Marleau said. “I don’t know if he heard me, but it was a great play by him just to get it on net. It was just lying there on the side of the net and I was able to bat it home.”
The Canucks have lost 10 of their past 11 playoff games since taking a 3-2 lead over Boston in the Stanley Cup final two years ago. They lost the final two games of that series to the Bruins to miss out on the first title in franchise history. Vancouver then fell in five games as the top seed in the Western Conference to eventual champion Los Angeles in the first round last year and was blitzed by the sixth-seeded Sharks this year.
The Canucks have scored just 18 goals in their past 11 post-season games, including none for the Sedin twins in this series.
“This is the most frustrating a team I’ve been a part of,” Daniel Sedin said. “We have a good team and what cost us? Little mistakes, taking penalties. We have ourselves to blame.”
Vancouver took the lead with two goals in a span of 1:50 midway through the third period. The first came on the power play when Andrew Desjardins was sent off for roughing. Henrik Sedin set up the tying goal with a nifty blind pass to twin brother Daniel, who fed Burrows in front of the net for the easy tap-in.
Then Burrows won a battle for the puck in the corner and fed Edler in the high slot for a slap shot. It beat Antti Niemi and gave the Canucks their first lead since Marleau’s tying goal in the final minute of regulation in Game 2 in Vancouver.
But just as in Game 2, Vancouver couldn’t hold onto a late lead after Kevin Bieksa was sent off for cross-checking Wingels. Bieksa complained on the off-day that the Sharks embellished penalties and lacked integrity, making his infraction even sweeter for the sold-out crowd that booed him all night.
Bieksa could only watch from the penalty box as Pavelski pounced on a rebound of Logan Couture’s shot and knocked a backhand into the open net for his fourth goal in the past two games.
“They were never happy this whole series about the officiating, but all the penalties were penalties, and the refs did a great job,” Couture said. “They were undisciplined. They took those penalties and we were able to capitalize.”
NOTES: The Sharks had 24 power-play chances in the series to just 10 for the Canucks. … Vancouver was swept in a best-of-seven series for the fourth time and first since the 2001 first round against Colorado.