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NHL Playoffs 2011: Sharks Fall To 3-1 Series Hole In 4-2 Loss To Canucks In Game Four

The San Jose Sharks were hoping to bring momentum out of game three at home into game four, tying the series against the Canucks and heading to Vancouver with their head held high. The first period wasn't necessarily terrible, but the Sharks failed to convert on four power play attempts in said opening frame. In fact, they failed to look like they ever had the man advantage, starting with the very first power play in which the Canucks had the puck possession for a little more than half of the two-minute penalty. That trend continued into the second period, when they failed to get anything done on a power play that Raffi Torres was called for when he charged Douglas Murray in the final seconds of the opening frame.

But it wasn't truly horrible play from the Sharks. They did hold the edge in shots and Antti Niemi was looking solid ... Joe Thornton was getting things done with the puck and the lines were canceling each other out as they should. But then the penalties starting going the other way ... and after a hooking penalty from Torrey Mitchell, the Sharks were defending a 5-on-3. The Canucks scored on that in less than ten seconds to take a 1-0 lead in the game. Shortly after, they're called for too many men on the ice, and the Canucks score on their first attempt on a second 5-on-3. Then, they're called for delay-of-game, and the Canucks score again on their first shot of the 5-on-3 penalty to go up 3-0.

When Alexandre Burrows scored five minutes into the third period to give the Canucks a 4-0 lead, the game was essentially over. The Sharks didn't believe it, though, and they came back and fought, but it was too little too late. Ryane Clowe scored late in the game and Andrew Desjardins lit the lamp before that, but 4-2 was the best they were going to do.

The 5-on-3 goals were almost instant, though it's hard to really place blame when it's ... you know, a 5-on-3. Two of the three goals appeared soft, but how much blame can you put on Niemi at that point? Probably not a lot ... what's clear is that the Sharks came out and completely laid an egg. They needed to avoid those penalties and they needed to get the scoring started early. Roberto Luongo was solid when the Sharks actually had scoring opportunities, and that didn't help matters.

Joe Thornton was also injured and left the game in the third period, which does not bode well for the Sharks going forward. However, it's not as though they're out of this ... these are the two best teams in the Western Conference, and the Sharks are (hopefully) not ready to give up yet. Play reverts back to Vancouver for game five.