(PhatzRadio / AP) — SAN JOSE, Calif. – Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau took 9 seconds to turn a tight game into a laugher and move the San Jose Sharks to the brink of their first playoff sweep in franchise history.
Couture and Marleau scored in rapid succession in the opening minutes of the third period to spoil Cory Schneider’s return to the nets for Vancouver and the Sharks won their third straight game to open the playoffs, beating the Canucks 5-2 on Sunday night.
“When you score goals that quick, it’s tough on the bench, it’s tough on the goalie,” Couture said. “‘It ruins his confidence a little bit. They were big goals. Patty’s goal was huge to get the three-goal lead. And then the fifth one was big as well.”
Couture had two goals and two assists, Joe Pavelski scored twice and Antti Niemi made 28 saves as the Sharks took a 3-0 series lead. San Jose will attempt to complete the first series sweep in franchise history at home on Tuesday night.
Alex Burrows and Dan Hamhuis scored for the Canucks, who have lost nine of their past 10 playoff games since taking a 3-2 series lead over Boston in the Stanley Cup finals two years ago. Vancouver dropped the last two games of that series, was eliminated in five games in the first round a year ago by Los Angeles and has now fallen into a deep hole against the Sharks.
“Right now we’re not good enough,” backup goalie Roberto Luongo said. “A couple of guys are out there playing their heart out but we need everybody. I don’t know how many positives you can take out of these three games.”
Even a change at goaltender couldn’t change the Canucks’ playoff fortunes. Schneider, the starter for most of the regular season, replaced Luongo after missing the first two games with an undisclosed injury.
But the change failed to provide a spark to Vancouver and backfired when Schneider couldn’t even make it through the game.
“We felt Lou was playing great to be honest with you,” Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. “We felt lucky we didn’t have to play against him.”
Schneider was replaced by Luongo after allowing three goals in the first 4:07 of the third period to end Vancouver’s hopes of a comeback. Two of those goals came on the power play as San Jose tied a franchise playoff record with three power play goals.
The scoring flurry to start the third sent the sellout crowd at the Shark Tank into a frenzy. The first came on a power play when Couture took a long breakout pass from Matt Irwin and beat Schneider from the top of the circle with no traffic in front of the net on the power play.
Couture then won the ensuing faceoff and Marleau skated into the zone and beat Schneider between the pads before the first celebration had even died down to score for the third straight game.
“We felt like we were in it, down 2-1 going into the third period,” centre Derek Roy said. “We felt good about ourselves and then it’s the power play again and before we know it we’re down 4-1. We have to stay out of the penalty box.”
Couture added another power-play goal on a pass from Joe Thornton to give him three for the series and give the Sharks three goals in a span of 2:27.
Luongo stopped all 10 shots he faced but by then it was too late to help the Canucks. Coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t say who would start Game 4.
“Cory didn’t lose his net to injury,” Vigneault said. “He was playing real well. He was good to go today. He knew yesterday. Cory was healthy and he’s the guy that I wanted to go with. It was my decision.”
As much as the goaltending was a problem for Vancouver in this game, goal scoring has been a problem all series. Burrows gave the top line its first goal of the series when he one-timed a pass from Henrik Sedin past Niemi midway through the second period to cut San Jose’s lead to 2-1.
But that’s all Vancouver could manage until Hamhuis’ goal late in the third cut the deficit to 5-2. The Canucks have been held to five goals through three games.
“We absolutely have to score more,” captain Henrik Sedin said. “They are scoring a lot and we need to put more goals in.”
After being held without a point in a five-game, first-round loss to St. Louis a year ago, Pavelski is back to being the big-time playoff performer he has been for much of his career in San Jose. He had his fourth career two-goal game in the post-season after assisting on three goals the first two games.
San Jose returned home to a towel-waving crowd at the Shark Tank after winning the first two games on the road in a playoff series for the first time since 1995 and broke out to a 1-0 lead after a high-paced first period when Pavelski converted a pass from Couture during a 5-on-3 advantage.
The Sharks lost just twice in regulation at home in the regular season and were even better in their first playoff game in front of their fans.
“We feel good when we play in the building,” coach Todd McLellan said. “Pavs said something after the game about the fans that they almost become his legs at times because they are so energizing.”
NOTES: The goals by Couture and Marleau were the second fastest in playoff history for San Jose, 1 second slower than John MacLean and Ron Sutter in 1998 against Dallas. … The Sharks have won all six meetings against the Canucks this season.
Canadiens lose their cool in ugly 6-1 defeat to Senators in Game 3
(PhatzRadio / AP) — OTTAWA – What was a dream game for the Senators, and rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau in particular, ended up being a nightmare for the Canadiens.
Montreal’s 6-1 setback to Ottawa on Sunday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final was about an ugly a defeat as you will see — and most of it came in the third period.
Pageau, a native of Ottawa, had his first NHL hat trick in his first home playoff game as the Senators took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Montreal defenceman PK Subban, on the other hand, had 25 minutes in penalties, including a game misconduct and instigator penalty following a fight with Senators forward Kyle Turris. He was ejected less than nine minutes into the third period.
Subban also removed one of Pageau’s teeth with a high stick as the rookie was scoring his first goal of the game.
Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien wouldn’t lay blame on any one payer, saying that you play as a team, and Sunday they lost as a team.
Therrien did however take a jab at Senator’s coach Paul MacLean, who took a timeout with 17 seconds remaining in the game.
“We were beaten by a better team, but a timeout with 17 seconds left, it’s rare that you see that,” said Therrien. “You let the players dictate the game. As a coach you never want to humiliate a team, but that’s exactly what MacLean was trying to do.
“To me, that was a total lack of class. I even talked to the ref and he’s never seen that.”
The time-out came as the Senators were up 6-1 and going on the power play after a long parade to the penalty box in the third period, as well as to the dressing room because of eight game misconducts as a result of a line brawl.
Canadiens’ players Josh Georges and Brian Gionta said they thought Maclean was just telling his players to lay back and stay away from any further trouble with the game having long been decided.
Therrien wasn’t buying that. MacLean said he was just trying to protect his players from a situation the Canadiens instigated and he would do it again.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen next,” said MacLean. “I felt bad for referees but they wouldn’t let me bring my players to the bench so I could tell them what I wanted to do. My only recourse was to take the timeout because I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. Things had gotten dumb enough as it was.”
All that aside, the fact remains the Canadiens will need to find a way to be better than they were Sunday, especially in the third period when goalie Carey Price allowed four goals on nine shots.
“We can be mad at them all we want, but we let it slip away and we didn’t respond the way we wanted to,” said Georges, who fired a slap shot at a Senators player in the game’s final seconds.
“In the playoffs, at this time of the year, you can’t lose your cool and for a stretch there in the third period we lost our heads. We have to regroup and figure out what we need to figure out.”
Staying out of the penalty box would be a good starting point. The Senators scored three times on the power play, as the Canadiens racked up 129 minutes in penalties compared to 107 for Ottawa.
“Good teams in the playoffs are able to overcome adversity, and that third period doesn’t get any worse for us,” said Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, who missed Game 2 with an upper body injury. “We got embarrassed and it’s time for everybody to look in the mirror and say we’ve got to be better. We’re going to have to do that from puck drop in the next game. We know we have to be much better.”
Game 4 is Tuesday night in Ottawa.