SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 22: (L-R) Ryan Kesler #17, Daniel Sedin #22, Sami Salo #6, Henrik Sedin #33 and Alex Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrate Salo's second goal of the second period in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 22, 2011 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Canucks Vs. Sharks, Game 4: Vancouver Takes 3-1 Series Lead With 4-2 Win

Vancouver made the most of its 13 shots, scoring three second period goals and holding on in the third period, to move to within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals.

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Canucks Vs. Sharks, Game 4: Alain Vigneault Makes Adjustments, Vancouver Wins Game Of Inches

In Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, Vancouver's Alain Vigneault won the coaching battle by nullifying San Jose's special teams. How will San Jose's Todd McLellan respond in Game 5?

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Canucks Vs. Sharks, Game 4: Vancouver Oh So Close To Stanley Cup

Sami Salo tallied two power-play goals and assisted on another as the Vancouver Canucks used special-teams play to take a 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

The victory gives Vancouver a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, and the franchise is just one step away from its first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994.

Vancouver fans shouldn't get ahead of themselves. Stranger things have happened. But still, there's enough kudos for Canuck fans to pass around.

...But special mention has to go to the penalty killers, including Luongo.  Those five straight early could have made this game a much different one early on.  Kudos to the Twins for doing what superstars do, especially Henrik and his four point night.  And, of course, kudos to the fans that took the time and money to make this a less than home game tonight.  We heard you. We heard you sing that national anthem better than the lounge singer they had do it.  Way to go folks!

One more win and then it's kudos for everyone.

For more on the NHL's Western Conference Final, check in with our Sharks vs. Canucks series hub, as well as our blogs: Fear The Fin covering the Sharks and Nucks Misconduct covering the Canucks. You can find more local coverage at SB Nation Bay Area and Battle of California.

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Canucks Vs. Sharks, Game 4 Final Score: Vancouver Wins 4-2, Takes 3-1 Series Lead

After their big second period, Vancouver spent much of the third period of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on its heels. It was more than enough to give the Canucks a 4-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks and a 3-1 series lead.

Vancouver scored first in the fourth period, on a tap-in from Alex Burrows set up by Henrik Sedin's beautiful assist through the legs of San Jose goalie Antti Niemi. It was Sedin's fourth assist of the game, and gave the Canucks a 4-0 lead with under 15 minutes to go.

But San Jose rallied back valiantly, with goals from Andrew Desjardins and Ryane Clowe, and gave itself a chance to make a desperation charge late with an empty net. In keeping with the Sharks' high-volume, low-efficiency attack on the day, though, San Jose produced 17 shots in the third period, and just those two goals, ultimately falling short.

By contrast, Vancouver's four goals came on just 13 shots total.

San Jose's rally was hampered by an injury to its captain, Joe Thornton, who headed to the locker room midway through the third after taking a big hit from Vancouver's Raffi Torres. He did not return to the game, and his status is unclear for Game 5 of the series in Vancouver.

That game will take place on Tuesday at 9 p.m. With a win, the Canucks would return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994.

For more on the NHL's Western Conference Final, check in with our Sharks vs. Canucks series hub, as well as our blogs: Fear The Fin covering the Sharks and Nucks Misconduct covering the Canucks. You can find more local coverage at SB Nation Bay Area and Battle of California.

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Canucks Vs. Sharks, Game 4 Score: Vancouver Strikes In Second Period With Power Play Goals

After a scoreless first period in San Jose, the floodgates have opened in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. And all it took was Vancouver getting a power play for a change.

The Canucks earned their first power play midway through the second, then almost immediately got a 5-on-3 after a San Jose penalty while short-handed. Ryan Kesler took advantage with a one-timer goal that produced Vancouver's first 1-0 lead of the series.

Then Vancouver got two more 5-on-3s, after a too many men on the ice penalty and a delay of game call on Douglas Murray, and punctuated each opportunity with a Sami Salo goal, taking a massive 3-0 lead with three goals in just under two minutes and leaving the Sharks and their home crowd stunned.

The Canucks ended up just one goal shy of the NHL record for power play goals in one period of a playoff game.

San Jose's struggles came after the Sharks enjoyed five straight power plays to begin the game. And though the Sharks were able to get shots on those man advantages (San Jose still holds the advantage in shots, 18-10), they couldn't break through.

Vancouver did, and now appears poised to take a commanding 3-1 lead back north of the border.

For more on the NHL's Western Conference Final, check in with our Sharks vs. Canucks series hub, as well as our blogs: Fear The Fin covering the Sharks and Nucks Misconduct covering the Canucks. You can find more local coverage at SB Nation Bay Area and Battle of California.

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Canucks Vs. Sharks, Game 4 Score: Despite San Jose Power Plays, A Scoreless First Period

Vancouver and San Jose have gotten used to high-scoring games and first period goals in their Western Conference Finals series. Game 4 isn't there quite yet, and the teams are tied 0-0 after one period in San Jose.

After a combined eight first period goals in the first three games of this series, the Canucks and Sharks settled into a defensive battle in Game 4. And the power play, which has been key to both teams, has yet to produce any Game 4 goals.

San Jose has gotten three power plays on three separate Vancouver penalties, including one just 26 seconds into the game, but hasn't been able to break the scoreless tie. And the Sharks have yet to be whistled for a penalty, leaving the Canucks without a man advantage through 20 minutes, while a Vancouver penalty on Raffi Torres will give San Jose a fourth power play to start the second period.

Fortunately for the penalty-happy Canucks, Roberto Luongo has been very good, making 10 saves in the first.

For more on the NHL's Western Conference Final, check in with our Sharks vs. Canucks series hub, as well as our blogs: Fear The Fin covering the Sharks and Nucks Misconduct covering the Canucks. You can find more local coverage at SB Nation Bay Area and Battle of California.

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Canucks Vs. Sharks, Game 4: Sharks Looking To Even Series On Home Ice

The San Jose Sharks have had two completely different types of games in their series against the Vancouver Canucks. Games 1 and 2 saw the Sharks offense not really be able to generate much of anything, scoring five goals in two games. Game 3 saw the Sharks on the man advantage for a total of 15:51 in the game and convert three of 10 power plays and scoring four goals in the game. 

If the Sharks are going to even this series, they need to continue to keep drawing penalties on the Canucks. The Sharks even strength scoring is still very much non existent in this series with a total of three even strength goals in three games while their power play has gone 6 for 13 in the series and converted on each of their first five opportunities in the series. 

The Canucks are going to be without two of their defensemen for this game as Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome are not expected to play. Both were injured in Game 3 on two separate hits by Jamie McGinn. McGinn's hit on Aaron Rome seemed to draw some ire as he was given a five minute boarding call and thrown out of the game for it. McGinn will still be in the lineup for Game 4 though as he was not suspended by the league for the hit. McGinn did have something to say about the hit after the game:

"It's too bad that he got hurt," said McGinn, who also received a game misconduct in the first-round series against Los Angeles. "I think I've looked at it 100 times. I tried to slow. I was finishing my check, and he hit his head on the glass."

McGinn added: "I'm not a dirty player. I don't try to take guys' heads off. I just try to play as hard as possible."

This means that Keith Ballard and Andrew Alberts will slot in as the third defensive pairing for the Canucks, which really shouldn't be an issue for the Canucks. Keith Ballard is not Christian Ehrhoff but he is a serviceable defenseman. Ehrhoff is second in the league in defenseman scoring, four points behind San Jose's Dan Boyle for the league lead, while Ballard has played in a total of seven playoff games for the Canucks. In those seven games, Ballard hasn't registered a point and is a -1 with four penalty minutes. Ballard hasn't been the player that the Canucks would have hoped he would have been this season and he knows as much:

"Fair or unfair, that's the reality I'm faced with on mistakes," he says. "Some guys like Hank and Danny can turn the puck over but because they're putting up 100 points they're obviously going to get more room and mistakes may not affect them as much. There's not a lot of room for error for me, that's the bottom line."

Game time is 3:00 pm Eastern and can be seen on NBC in the United States and on CBC in Canada. 

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