After a thrilling overtime win on Friday, the San Jose Sharks head home to the HP Pavilion with a 2-0 series lead.
The Vancouver Canucks dominated offensive zone time for a majority of the game, even more than in the first game, butt the Sharks were able to leave with their second game of the series thanks to a clutch goal by Patrick Marleau and a well executed two-on-one opportunity.
That is now a goal in each game for Marleau who might be heating up at the right time for San Jose. He does not lead the team in points though with both Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski at three points each. Boyle has one goal and two assists while Pavelski has three assists.
Still, while the Canucks dominated possession, they did not get as many scoring chances due to a pretty tough Sharks defense. For a majority of the game they kept the Canucks to the outside and blocked plenty of shots as well. If shots did get through, Antti Niemi was there to clean up. He played stong once again and was just as good as advertised.
Early indications point to the return of Scott Gomez tonight as he skated with the team’s fourth line during the morning practice while Martin Havlat was not present. His status remains questionable, but at this point do not expect him to play tonight.
The comeback of Gomez into the lineup should hopefully help out the struggling power play that is lacking depth, especially on the second line, since both he and Havlat have been out.
On the Vancouver side we may have a goaltending change with Cory Schneider possibly returning tonight to mind his net. His replacement Roberto Luongo has played very well but it looks like Alain Vigneault is looking to make a change.
The Canucks can be an even tougher team to score on with Schneider in net although goaltending has not really been their problem. This could also work out in San Jose’s favor because, as I said earlier, Luongo has been playing very well and Schneider has been out for a few games now.
What To Watch For
It will be interesting to see how the game starts and whether the Sharks come out strong with the crowd behind them or if Vancouver comes out strong again like they have the last two games.
I’ll also be keeping an eye on zone time to see those trends continue as well or if the Sharks pick their possession numbers up. Lastly, with the new goaltender in, I would imagine San Jose will want to test Schneider early and often to see how ready he actually is.