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Playoffs Tonight: Sharks aim to sweep Canucks

May 7, 2013, 8:03 AM EDT

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 05: Goaltender Antti Niemi #31 and Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks skate out onto the ice before Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Vancouver Canucks during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 5, 2013 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

This should be an eventful night. We got two series that have been great clashes at 7:00 p.m. ET and we’ll end the night with the first match of the playoffs that’s a must-win for one of the teams.

Before we go into detail about the coming attractions, keep in mind that you can watch all these games online in addition to the channels listed below:

Game 4: New York Islanders host Pittsburgh Penguins (7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Penguins lead series 2-1

The New York Islanders have shown over the last two games that they’re capable of matching the Penguins goal-for-goal. That’s impressive considering they’re a young, eighth seed team with several core players that had no postseason experience going into this series.

They fell short in Game 3, but at least they kept things interesting.

“If you’re satisfied with just being able to compete, that’s a recipe for losing,” Islanders forward Josh Bailey told Newsday. “We’re not here to try and hang with them and go home having put up a good fight. We’re here to win.”

If the Islanders want something more than a moral victory, they’ll need to play a very disciplined game. Thus far, they’ve been unable to contain the Penguins when Pittsburgh has the man advantage and it’s been the difference in this series.

Game 4: Ottawa Senators host Montreal Canadiens (7:00 p.m. ET, CNBC)
Senators lead series 2-1

These two teams combined for 210 penalty minutes in the third period of Ottawa’s 6-1 victory on Sunday. There were eight game misconducts, a questionable elbowing, more postgame verbal sparring between the coaches, but no suspensions were handed out.

In other words, almost all of the same players will be on hand for what’s likely to be another heated and gritty game tonight. On top of that Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba is likely to play after serving his two-game suspension for his hit that hospitalized Montreal forward Lars Eller.

How the Canadiens will react to Gryba given everything that’s happened since is something Senators coach Paul MacLean “will be interested to see.”

Of course, as physical as this game might be, Montreal obviously needs a win far more than they need to make a statement.

Game 4: Minnesota Wild host Chicago Blackhawks
Blackhawks lead series 2-1

Minnesota Wild Jason Zucker had just four career NHL goals going into the playoffs. On Sunday, he came up big, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to put the Wild back in this series.

Prior to that contest, Wild coach Mike Yeo talked about his team’s need to get “desperate” and the need to hate the Blackhawks. After suffering their first loss of the postseason, Blackhawks bench boss Joel Quenneville would like to see the same from his club.

“We want to make sure we have more urgency to our game, more directness, and the passion that comes with playoff hockey,” Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “I’d like to see a very intense team. You watch other playoff series, you can see whether it’s the animosity, the hatred, the battles, that’s playoff hockey. That’s the level we have to get to and go from there.”

We’ll see which team is able to play with more urgency tonight.

Game 4: San Jose Sharks host Vancouver Canucks
Sharks lead series 3-0

After coming just one game short of the Stanley Cup in 2011, the Canucks are on the brink of being eliminated in the first round for the second straight year.

It will be interesting to see which goaltender the Vancouver Canucks go with in this contest. Cory Schneider was injured going into this series, so they went with Roberto Luongo, who held his own despite losing the first two games. Schneider was healthy for Game 3, so the Canucks had him start over Luongo, but Schneider ended up getting yanked after allowing five goals.

To pour salt in the wound, Sharks captain Joe Thornton said that they felt “lucky not to play against Lou.”

Of course, who the Canucks go with between the pipes will be moot if the rest of the team doesn’t step up. They’ve scored just four goals in three games.

  1. pitpenguinsrulez - May 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    The Penguins have to play a full 60 minute game tonight. They played playoff hockey during their 15 and 7 game winning streaks this season. Fleury needs to stop letting in the soft goals. The defense needs to tighten up and stop allowing the Isles to come through the neutral zone without much issue. Crosby is the only player who has come to play in the last two games. If we win tonight then there is no reason this series shouldn’t end on Thursday maybe Saturday at the latest. Winning 3 straight games would be tough for the Isles. It’s going to be a great game tonight! Can’t wait for the puck drop

    • JoeAvg - May 7, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      Is it 7:00 yet?

    • hockeywithdrawal - May 7, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      To be honest I’m not sure the defense wants to tighten up in the neutral zone (whether it’s a good idea or not is beyond me)…they’re backing off a good bit due to the Islanders speed. Honestly everytime I see them play it’s like they get faster and faster. I do think they need to be more physical in the defensive zone though. And the forwards need to be as physical as they were in game 1. They haven’t TAKEN possession of the puck except for a few stretches over the past two games. They’ve been waiting for it to come to them.

      I think if the Pens get out of this round Fleury snaps out of it, to be honest. I think the past few years have been tough. Not sure I even blame him for much of it.

      GO PENS.

      • pitpenguinsrulez - May 7, 2013 at 10:31 AM

        In my view I think that there is more on the Pens to get out of round one than there is to win the cup. Sures there’s pressure to win it all don’t get me wrong but getting past the first round has the most. 2011 and 2012 were major disappointments

    • bgrillz - May 7, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      3 bad bounces in Game 2, and no one is even talking about Fleury. He gets a shutout in game 1, Game 2 he was really unlucky with the boards bounces, and game 3 he was hung out to dry on the Okposo breakaway. And the Tavares tying goal was anything but soft. I am tired of Fleury getting all the blame. It’s silly.

  2. sjsharks66 - May 7, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    I think the sharks sweep no matter who is in the net. They are going to play 110% tonight and the Tank will be loud.

    If Lou starts, it will be a close game. If Schneider starts…..well, let just hope for Vancouver’s sake that he doesn’t.

    • kitshky - May 7, 2013 at 2:08 PM

      While I absolutely agree with your Luongo comment … I can’t help but laugh at the sheer irony of it all.

      • polegojim - May 7, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        Yes… and STILL intent on moving him out.

        I’ve never seen a teams best goalie so constantly and blatantly treated as ‘unwanted’.

        Luongo deserves better.

      • kitshky - May 7, 2013 at 4:33 PM

        It’s ridiculous, the guys numbers are off the charts (in regular season and the playoffs) and while ya his flame outs have been under brightest lights and are going to get a lot of attention …I’ve never understood the attempts to paint him as anything other than a world class goaltender.

      • sunderlanding - May 7, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Is it really “ironic”. I smelled it comming from a mile away.

      • kitshky - May 7, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        Yes .. it is.

        It’s ironic that after all the abuse people who have defended Luongo against the ridiculous, biased, fantasy based criticism have received on these pages… we now get to see a lot of those same fans now come out and use a defense of him to criticize the Canucks organization.

  3. polegojim - May 7, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    If it’s a sweep, there will be… and SHOULD be changes in Vancouver.

    Too much talent that underperforms in the playoffs. At some point, this team should have 1.. not not more Cups.

    Sedins and * will be synonymous.

  4. thehighcountrybear - May 7, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Can’t see it happening…

    This is going a minimum of six games. Sharks, like all teams need playoff revenue, so it’s counterintuitive to piss away potential gate revenue.

    Ditto Canucks; they will be coming hard and mean early on…there are points to be made, grudges to be squared away, a City expecting nothing less and potential for a game-five party in the streets of Vancouver. Give me hallelujah…

    Slap Couture hard enough upside his head so the double back flip reads as real…if big Joe wants to go all limp-wristed, give him cause [ every city has streets where that sort of thing can bring in some good trade Joey boy ]!

    Hate on the diving cheats…

    • sunderlanding - May 7, 2013 at 4:41 PM

      They were penalties dives or not, and it’s not like Vancouver hasn’t done that in the past. ALL teams dive from time to time. What is that crap about teams needing revenue? No one is intentionally throwing a game to get more money. You must be smoking some pretty heavy stuff.

  5. nvillano - May 7, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    There definitely is going to be a lot on the line for the Canucks tonight….if they lose expect to see a completely different team next year….and see what is going to change on this team here!

  6. girouxed - May 7, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    What a chokefest Vancouver is. already down 1-0.

    kind of reminds me of philly…

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