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Sharks look to put Canucks in three-game hole

by John Kreiser


(San Jose leads best-of-7 series 2-0)


Big story: The San Jose Sharks come home with the chance to put a stranglehold on their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks after winning Games 1 and 2 at Rogers Arena. The Canucks trail 2-0 in an opening-round series for the second straight year.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Two years ago, the Canucks were one win away from the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Since then, they've won once in nine playoff games -- but their loss to the Sharks on Friday night was especially painful. Vancouver was less than a minute away from evening the series before Patrick Marleau scored with 55.1 seconds left in regulation and former Canucks player Raffi Torres beat Roberto Luongo for the overtime winner.

The back-to-back home losses make Game 3 a must for the Canucks, who've dropped their past six postseason games at Rogers Arena and need a win in San Jose to earn a chance to snap that streak.

"Every time we are down in a series, no one believes in us," captain Henrik Sedin said Saturday. "This is a city where if you win a playoff game, everyone is happy. If you lose one or two, no one is going to believe in you. … We have to believe in ourselves and do the same thing tomorrow to give ourselves a chance."

Sharks: Marleau's reputation as a player who can't produce in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is belied by his numbers. He has goals in each of the first two games, and his game-tying tally Friday was the 54th postseason goal of his career -- more than any other active player not named Jaromir Jagr. He didn't score in last year's five-game loss to St. Louis, but had 15 goals in 2009 and '10, helping San Jose make the Western Conference Finals both years.

"You just have to look at the stats," Sharks forward Brent Burns said. "The guy is incredible. The only knock on him is he just makes it look too easy. I wish I could do that. He's an unbelievable talent and he's one of the hardest-working guys here. It's pretty incredible to see and just follow a guy like that."

Who's hot: Canucks forward Ryan Kesler was in line to be the hero Friday night before the late heroics by Marleau -- he scored twice in the third period to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. … Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi has allowed three goals on 61 shots in the first two games.

Injury report: Goaltender Roberto Luongo started both games in Vancouver and could play again Sunday night. Starter Cory Schneider made the trip to San Jose but is still listed as day-to-day with what the Canucks call a "body" injury. Defenseman Chris Tanev, who missed the final 10 games of the regular season, also made the trip but was seen wearing a walking boot. David Booth (ankle) and Manny Malhotra (eye) are gone for the season. … San Jose was without forwards Scott Gomez and Martin Havlat (undisclosed) and defenseman Jason Demers (lower body) for Game 2. All three are listed as day-to-day.

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