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Sharks know they can't become overconfident

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks are sitting on a 3-0 Western Conference Quarterfinals series lead against the Vancouver Canucks, but they know better than to become overconfident.

After taking a 3-0 lead against the Detroit Red Wings in the semifinals two years ago, the Sharks lost three straight and were pushed to the limit in Game 7 before securing a 2-1 win.

Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart played for the Red Wings in that series.

"It can be a lesson for sure," Stuart said Monday morning at Sharks Ice, where San Jose had an optional practice. "Each game in the series, each victory is harder to get. The third victory is harder than the second and the fourth victory is always the hardest. We have to remember this will be the toughest game to win, and we have to approach it like that. If you don't, things can turn quickly.

"I was on the other side of it two years ago. You lose that momentum and all of a sudden, you get 3-2 and you're a little nervous and then it's 3-3 before you know it. You want to come out with the mindset of finishing a team off as quickly as you can. Playing those extra games catches up to you even if you do advance."

The Sharks advanced to the Western Conference Finals against Vancouver, but lost in five games after their long, seven-game battle against Detroit.

"We know how good of a team they are," Sharks forward Logan Couture said. "They had a great regular season and are the third seed for a reason. We want to finish it off at home and play the way we have at home this year and continue to feed off what we did in Game 3. If we get power plays, be successful on the power play. We know how big of a game it is."

The Sharks and Canucks meet in Game 4 on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion, where San Jose has lost in regulation twice this season. The Sharks won all three regular-season games against the Canucks -- two at HP -- and are 3-0 in the postseason.

"I have to believe and think this group also believes that we can win one game," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "If we can win one game, that's what we're up against tomorrow. We got to win one game. Haven't beaten this team once this year. Can we beat this team one time?"

Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, for one, believes they can still win the series, even though only three teams in NHL history have won a best-of-7 after losing the first three games.

"Obviously we're down 3-0 so we have to be a lot better," Bieksa said Monday afternoon at HP Pavilion, where the Canucks held an optional practice. "Everyone has to look in the mirror, and I don't think there's one guy who can say he's bringing his best game to us right now. That being said, we still believe we can beat this team four games in a row. It's a matter of staying out of the box, and 5-on-5 we feel we're the better team. We obviously have to prove it, but we're still confident in ourselves."

Last year the Canucks lost their quarterfinals series to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. Since losing in seven games to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, the Canucks have gone 1-7 in the playoffs.

"It doesn't matter," Bieksa said. "We don't look back. This playoffs is different on its own. We don't really look back at that. We're in a position now where we've used all three lifelines and we have none left. We're going to have to win the next one. Start there."

Vigneault did not announce his starting goaltender for Game 4, but said he had made a decision. Roberto Luongo started the first two games, allowing three goals in each, while Cory Schneider nursed an undisclosed injury. Schneider started Game 3, but was replaced by Luongo after giving up five goals on 28 shots.

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