Special teams have played a big role in the 2011 Western Conference Final between the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks. And that role was very evident in San Jose's 4-2 loss in Game 4.
Aside from giving up three goals while down two men in the second period, San Jose went scoreless in five power play chances on Sunday. The opposite occured in Game 3 as the Sharks got three power play goals.
“We had our power play opportunities and obviously we weren’t very sharp,” Coach Todd McLellan said. “(Vancouver) tightened things up.They stood at their lines a little bit better. When you’re up against the No. 1 penalty killers in the League, you have to be sharp and we weren’t. It was as simple as that.”
Before today's game, San Jose’s power play tallied six goals on 13 chances (46.1 percent) -- including going 5-for-5 on the man advantage to start the series.
“We got what we wanted,” McLellan said about his team's effort. “We got the energy, we got the crowd into it, we earned opportunities on the power play and then you can see the passing was off, the receiving was off, the timing was off. There wasn’t much rhythm. I have to believe some of that was mental and some of it was physical, a combination of both.”
The trend of undisciplined penalties from Vancouver continued from Friday into today’s Game 4. Tanner Glass gave the Sharks a power play just 26 seconds into the game with a tripping penalty.
“The first power play was really bad,” Dan Boyle
said. “They came at us pretty hard and we were definitely slow, a step behind. It was the first shift of the game for a lot of guys.”
Vancouver took three more penalties in the first period -- including an ill-advised charging minor by Raffi Torres at the buzzer. But the Sharks failed to convert.
“Obviously, we should have scored at least one of those, probably two,” Dany Heatley said of the power play chances. “We took a few penalties and they capitalized. We showed spurts late in the second and third periods, but not enough to win the game.”
McLellan said the team got more and more frustrated when they didn’t have anything to show for their efforts on the power plays.
“You start to press a little bit. It got worse and worse,” he said. “It sucked the life out of our team.”
“The puck was bouncing around all over the place out there,” Boyle said. “We did get the shots, but we just didn’t get any rebounds or sustain pressure.”
"It’s pretty frustrating and I’m angry right now, but it’s tough to look at a game objectively," Douglas Murray
said. "That’s why we always talk about the game the next day. Right now, we’re upset.”