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Sharks Head to San Jose With Two Wins

by Jonathan Okanes / San Jose Sharks

Patrick Marleau sucked the air out of Rogers Arena on Friday night. Raffi Torres then sent the all the people out as well.

Marleau scored a game-tying goal with 55.1 seconds remaining, and Torres then converted a 2-on-1 with Brent Burns for a score 5:31 into overtime, and the San Jose Sharks took a commanding 2 games to 0 lead in their Western Conference Quarterfinal Series against the Vancouver Canucks with a 3-2 victory on Friday night.

The Sharks had already accomplished their goal of earning at least a split of the first two games on the road with their 3-1 win on Wednesday night. But as the clock turned to within less than a minute left in regulation, it appeared San Jose wouldn’t be able to get greedy and return to the Bay Area with two wins. The Canucks outplayed the Sharks for most of the second and third periods.

But with goalie Antti Niemi off the ice for an extra attacker, defenseman Dan Boyle did some nifty skating to get the puck to the net. Marleau took a shot that snuck past Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo and rested in the crease. Marleau kept with the play and pushed the puck into the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2.

San Jose almost wasn’t in position to tie it up moments earlier but the Canucks’ Jannik Hansen missed the Sharks’ empty net by just a couple of inches with 1:24 left.

Burns, who was solid on the ice all night, almost won it for the Sharks earlier in overtime when a strange bounce on the ice sent the puck to him with a high-percentage shot. But Luongo turned back his shot to keep the score knotted at 2-2.

Burns made the winning goal happen, taking possession of the puck, streaking down the ice and then deftly slowing down just a bit to allow Torres to catch up for the 2-on-1. Burns held on to the puck until just the right time before shoveling it to Torres, who easily shot it past Luongo for the game-winner.

For a while, it looked as though the Sharks would have to settle for the road split.

The Canucks put a lot of pressure on the Sharks in the second and third periods. San Jose still held on to a 1-0 lead at the second intermission, but Vancouver quickly tied it up once the third began on a power play goal by Ryan Kesler, who scored both of the Canucks’ goals Friday night. Vancouver went on the man-advantage after the Sharks’ Andrew Desjardins was penalized for tripping just 39 seconds into the third.

Vancouver went in front 2-1 at 7:06 of the third after a San Jose turnover. Boyle tried to clear the puck from behind the net but Joe Pavelski couldn’t handle the pass. The puck skipped right to Kesler at the point, and he hammered it past Niemi to give the Canucks the lead.

Things started off well enough for the Sharks, who played a terrific first period for the second game in a row. After San Jose staved off some early aggression from the Canucks – which included the first 50 seconds of the game being played in the Sharks zone – the Sharks took control. They got on the board at 13:22 on a goal by Joe Thornton, who moments earlier had been kicked out of a faceoff in the Vancouver zone. The Canucks won the faceoff momentarily but the Sharks quickly regained possession. Brad Stuart threw it toward the net and it was deflected by Burns and right to Thornton, who shot it past Luongo as he fell to the ice.

The Sharks were 0-for-5 on the power play and consistently depended on Niemi to get them out of trouble. NIemi had a terrific night, especially in the second period when he turned back countless high-percentage shots by the Canucks. He finished with 29 saves.

STAR OF THE GAME: Brent Burns. The Sharks defenseman had two assists, including one on the game-winning goal by Raffi Torres. Burns also had one of the assists on Joe Thornton’s goal which put San Jose up 1-0 in the first period. Burns also tied a team-high with five shots.

GAME DATA: Goalie Antti Niemi made 30 saves, several spectacular ones in the second period when he withstood an onslaught of pressure from the Canucks. … The Sharks registered 22 blocked shots, something they have been proficient at during this series so far. …After outshooting the Canucks 10-4 in the first period, Vancouver outshot San Jose 23-12 in the second and third.

San Jose’s Martin Havlat missed the game after getting injured in Game 1. … Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury.

TEAM STATS: Shots – SJ 33, VAN 31. Hits – SJ 27, VAN 45. Faceoffs won – SJ 34, VAN 37.

NEXT UP: The Sharks are certainly in a good position as they return home for Game 3 on Sunday night at 7 p.m. San Jose already leads the series 2-0, and the next two games will be played at HP Pavilion, where the Sharks lost only twice in regulation this season. It remains to be seen if Vancouver starting goalie Cory Schneider will return for Game 3; Luongo has performed well in his place. Havlat’s status is uncertain for Sunday as well.

AP Recap

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Raffi Torres scored at 5:31 of overtime to give the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 of their playoff series Friday night.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to San Jose for games Sunday and Tuesday. San Jose was 17-2-5 at home this season.

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, whose goal in the final minute of the third period forced overtime, also scored for San Jose.

"I think it shows a lot about our team," said Torres. "We give up the lead, they were playing great. They were coming at us with everything. We showed a lot of determination, a lot of perseverance."

The Canucks took their sixth consecutive loss in a home playoff game. Now, they might not get another one after winning their fifth consecutive Northwest Division title.

Ryan Kesler scored two third-period goals for Vancouver, helping the Canucks overcome a 1-0 deficit that stood since the first period.

"I thought we played exceptional tonight," said Kesler. "We just didn't get it done. We have to regroup and focus on Game 3. Tomorrow we will learn from this and move on."

The Sharks outshot the Canucks 33-31 as Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and San Jose's Antti Niemi waged a goaltending battle for most of the game.

Shortly after getting hurt blocking Jason Garrison's shot, Thornton put in a rebound while falling down after Luongo stopped Brent Burns' deflection. The Sharks outshot the Canucks 10-4 in the first period after recovering from a slow start

San Jose had a goal disallowed at 6:08 of the second period. Joe Pavelski put in his own rebound but Tommy Wingels was deemed guilty of incidental contact with Luongo as he knocked him into a goalpost.

Luongo came up big near the midway mark as he stopped Torres, sprawling and catching the puck after a Vancouver giveaway.

Kesler created a 1-1 tie just 59 seconds into the third period as he put home a slap shot from the blue line during a power play. The goal came 20 seconds after San Jose's Andrew Desjardins was sent off for tripping Alex Edler.

Kesler put the Canucks ahead just over seven minutes later after a San Jose giveaway. Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle passed it up the middle and it deflected off Pavelski's stick and right to Kesler alone in the high slot. He ripped a slapper over Niemi's outstretched leg and blocker.

But Marleau forced overtime during a wild scramble. He poked in a puck that was lying in the crease after his shot squeezed through Luongo's legs and came to rest just in front of the goal line.

Just over a minute into overtime, Edler clanked a shot off the crossbar, and with Vancouver pressing, San Jose coach Todd McLellan called a timeout. Moments later, Torres scored on a 2-on-1 with Burns to give the Sharks the win.

NOTES: Vancouver converted 1 of 3 power-play chances while San Jose was blanked on five. ... Sharks winger Martin Havlat missed the game due to an undisclosed injury suffered in Game 1. ... Rookie Joe Cannata again served as Luongo's backup as Cory Schneider continued to recover from an undisclosed injury suffered late in the regular season. Schneider took the morning skate, but the Canucks had not yet decided whether he will travel to San Jose.

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