Big story -- The Canucks are two wins away from reaching their first Stanley Cup Final since 1994. The Sharks are two losses away from being swept in the Western Conference Finals for the second straight season. Vancouver has won three in a row since losing Game 5 to Nashville. The Canucks have also won three in a row on the road. San Jose has lost five of six since taking a 3-0 lead on Detroit.
Canucks -- Just about everything went right in the first two games of the series, save for their penalty kill and the inability to score the first goal. The Sharks grabbed the lead in both games and scored on all three of their power plays in Games 1 and 2, but it didn't matter. The Canucks' finish was so much better than San Jose's that it is making people wonder if this will ever turn into a series or if the Canucks are just going to blow past the Sharks the way the Blackhawks did last year at this time.
Vancouver took over Game 1 late in the second period and dominated in the third to win 3-2.
The Canucks took over Game 2 midway through the second period thanks to a huge goal from Kevin Bieksa with 7:55 to play. The Sharks lost their composure shortly after Bieksa and Patrick Marleau fought, but the Canucks kept theirs and again dominated the third period to win 7-3.
Bieksa completed a Gordie Howe hat trick with an assist on Chris Higgins' game-winning power play goal 7:56 into the third period.
The Canucks have so far outscored San Jose in the third period by a 6-1 margin. Perhaps most importantly, they kept their cool while the Sharks were losing theirs in the third period of Game 2.
"(Discipline) is something that we obviously addressed at the beginning of the year," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "We wanted to be more disciplined. We wanted to play whistle to whistle. We wanted to stay off the refs and the linesmen and just play. I think we've done that. We've done that since day one this year. We've been very disciplined, very focused and we have to continue that."
Sharks -- Todd McLellan wouldn't name names, but the Sharks' coach definitely is looking for plenty more from his key guys in Game 3. The Sharks, who have lost eight straight games in the Conference Finals dating back to 2004, simply haven't been good enough to beat the Canucks yet, and Wednesday night they flat out lost it due to a great deal of frustration.
Too much energy was spent on retribution for Bieksa fighting Marleau than trying to come back in a game that was only 3-2 going into the third period. It was a parade to the penalty box in the third period and the Canucks took over, striking for four goals in a span of less than nine minutes. Two of them came on the power play.
Vancouver's power play was 1-for-18 at Rogers Arena through two rounds. It's 4-for-11 in this series.
But, that's only part of the Sharks' problem now. They need to be better in pretty much every area to win Game 3.
"The game was still 3 2 halfway through the third period basically, 12 minutes left, and I thought prior to that we already lost our composure," McLellan said. "It wasn't like we lost it when it was 5 2 or 6 2. We lost it at 3 2. That's not the sign of a team that can win a series. That has to get better."
Who's hot -- The Sedins are back. Henrik and Daniel, who had just 7 points in six games against Nashville, have matched that total in two games against San Jose. They combined for 5 points on Daniel's 2 goals and Henrik's 3 assists in Game 2. ... Bieksa has scored goals off the rush in back-to-back games. He added an assist and a fight in Game 2. ... Higgins and Dan Hamhuis also had 3-point nights in Game 2. ... Marleau has scored in three straight games.
Injury report -- Canucks forward Mikael Samuelsson recently underwent surgery to repair his adductor tendon and sports hernia. He will be out for the rest of the playoffs. … Sharks defenseman Jason Demers has been scratched for the first two games of the conference finals, though the team has not confirmed it's injury-related. Demers played all 13 games in the first two rounds.
Stat pack -- The Sharks' third line is getting significantly outplayed by the Canucks' third line. Joe Pavelski, Torrey Mitchell and Kyle Wellwood have combined for just 1 point, seven shots, three hits, one block and a combined minus-3 rating. Maxim Lapierre, Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen have 2 goals, 3 assists, 10 shots, 18 hits, three blocks and a plus-6 rating.
Puck drop -- Starting with Calgary's 4-1 win over San Jose in 2004, the team that has won Game 2 in the Conference Finals has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final 11 straight times. The last team to lose Game 2 in the Conference Finals and still win the series was Tampa Bay in 2004.
"A real wise guy once told me that you're never really, really in trouble in a series until you lose a game at home," McLellan said. "We haven't done that -- and we don't plan on doing that."