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Key Players Need To Contribute More

by Dan Rosen / San Jose Sharks
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Did San Jose lose its collective legs in the final 23 minutes of Game 1 Sunday, or did the Vancouver Canucks take them away from the Sharks?

It's a fair question to ponder because while the Sharks were admittedly gassed in the third period, the Canucks were skating like bandits and forcing the play to take the bite out of their opponent before closing out a 3-2 victory.

No matter the answer you come up with, this much is certain: The Sharks can't stay in neutral for Game 2, and that means several of their players have to perform at a higher level to even this series before it shifts back to the Bay Area.

Here are the three Sharks that are expected to be better in Game 2:

Ryane Clowe

He came into the series leading the Sharks with 13 points, but Clowe was a non-factor in Game 1, as was the rest of his line. He didn't even play his normal physical brand of hockey, as he was credited with only one hit and one blocked shot, though the event summary showed him with two giveaways and zero shots on goal in 18:22 of ice time.

Clowe might still be injured (he missed Game 6 against Detroit), but if he's playing he has to be a factor as the Sharks' second-line left wing. He set a high standard for himself through the first two rounds that he now has to live up to.

Then again, so do Logan Couture and Dany Heatley.

"Let's call a spade a spade, we were awful (Sunday) night," Clowe said. "We've got to be a lot better than that. We had the puck a lot of times on our stick and just turned it over. That hasn't been in our game. Our line has been successful in grinding teams down and scoring goals, but we weren't very good. I think you can expect a lot more from us next game"

Dany Heatley

Like Clowe, Heatley had a Game 1 that he'd probably like to forget. He wasn't awful by any means, but he wasn't that much of a factor either.

Heatley committed the elbowing infraction on Raffi Torres that led to Henrik Sedin's game-winning goal. He thought there was a bit of embellishment on the part of Torres, but the referee didn't see it that way. It doesn't matter because Heatley didn't give the Sharks enough in all the other areas to make up for it. He had only two shots on goal and was never a real threat to score.

"I didn't think Clowey and Heater (Dany Heatley) skated well," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "They'd be the first to tell you that. When their legs are moving and they use huge bodies to protect pucks well, but they didn't get to them. They will be markedly better in Game 2. I expect them to be."

Joe Pavelski

Pavelski started the game as the Sharks' third-line center, but he moved up when McLellan spent the first period shuffling Joe Thornton up and down the lineup. That stopped after the first period, but Pavelski never quite settled into a productive groove.

The Wisconsin native finished Game 1 with a minus-1 rating, only one shot, one hit and one blocked shot along with an 8-7 record on faceoffs over 18:25 of ice time.

Pavelski and his linemates, Torrey Mitchell and Kyle Wellwood, were burned by the Canucks' third line early in the second period when they were caught chasing with defensemen Ian White and Niclas Wallin, leading to Jannik Hansen setting up Maxim Lapierre for the game-tying goal.

Pavelski has only 7 points in 14 playoff games after scoring 17 points in 15 games last postseason.

"Pav has had some better nights," McLellan said. "The good news is we had a 2-1 lead in the third period. We lost it, but we definitely had our 'B' game on display. We'd like to find that 'A' game again."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Author: Dan Rosen | Senior Writer

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