SAN JOSE - With the sharp-passing Sedin twins, plenty of players with big shots, and a gold medal-winning goalie, the Vancouver Canucks are tough enough to beat in normal situations. That task becomes nearly impossible when they have two extra skaters on the ice.
The Canucks converted three successive five-on-three power plays in a span of less than 2 minutes during the second period, with Sami Salo scoring twice and Ryan Kesler adding the third, to beat the San Jose Sharks, 4-2, yesterday in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals and take a 3-1 series lead.
"We kept marching to the box, they kept scoring," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
Henrik Sedin helped set up the three goals in a span of 1:55 as the Canucks needed only 37 seconds on the three five-on-three situations to become the first team in NHL history to score three goals with a two-man advantage in the playoffs. He added another assist in the third period to set a franchise record for assists in a game, increasing his league-leading total to 19 points this postseason.
During the regular season, Vancouver scored only one goal with a five-on-three advantage.
"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."
Burrows added an even-strength goal off a nifty pass from Henrik Sedin in the third period as the Canucks moved to the brink of reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1994. Daniel Sedin added three assists, and Roberto Luongo made 33 saves.
Vancouver had just 13 shots all game, scoring on four of their 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 now must win Game 5 in Vancouver tomorrow night to extend the series.
"They kept giving us chances and putting themselves in a hole," Clowe said. "When we get PPs, that's where we need to capitalize. We just weren't sharp enough. That's not physical. That's mental."