By IRA PODELL, Associated Press Sports Writer
No. 3 VANCOUVER CANUCKS (26-15-7) vs. No. 6 SAN JOSE SHARKS (25-16-7)
2013 series record: San Jose 3-0-0.
Playoff History: Vancouver 1-0. Last meeting: Vancouver 4-1 in 2011 conference finals.
VANCOUVER: The Canucks enter the playoffs as the Northwest Division champion for the fifth time in six seasons. … Vancouver might have to make the most of its home-ice advantage because the Sharks have only two regulation losses in San Jose and five other defeats in overtime or shootouts. … The Canucks mustered just 127 goals this season — 28 fewer than Central champion Chicago and 13 less than Pacific champion Anaheim. Alex Burrows led the Canucks with 13 goals, Daniel Sedin was next with 12, followed by twin brother Henrik with 11. Henrik Sedin had a team-best 45 points, five more than Daniel. … Cory Schneider got the bulk of the work in goal, making 30 appearances — 10 more than former No. 1 netminder Roberto Luongo. Schneider had a solid season with 17 wins and a 2.11 GAA. Luongo posted nine wins with a 2.56 GAA.
SAN JOSE: The Sharks will have to quickly figure out how to win on the road — at least once in this series — if they are going to advance. They were 17-2-5 at home but only 8-13-2 on the road, though one of the wins was in Vancouver. San Jose had the potential confidence boost that it was undefeated against the Canucks this season. … The Sharks lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs after consecutive trips to the Western Conference finals the previous two years. Vancouver derailed them in five games in 2011 before falling in the finals to Boston. … San Jose has been to the playoffs in nine straight seasons, reaching the conference finals three times during that run. … Logan Couture led the team with 21 goals in 48 games, only 11 goals fewer than his career best of 32 in 79 games of the 2010-11 season. Joe Thornton was limited to seven goals, but he topped the team in scoring thanks to his 33 assists. Patrick Marleau (17 goals) and Joe Pavelski (16) will be needed to produce if San Jose hopes to advance. … The rest will be left up to workhorse goalie Antti Niemi, who played in 43 of the Sharks’ 48 games and tied for the NHL lead with 24 wins. The heavy workload didn’t seem to wear him down as Niemi posted an impressive 2.16 GAA and .924 save percentage. Backup Thomas Greiss got into only six games and earned one win.
OUTLOOK: San Jose is used to long playoff runs. Its success over Vancouver continues into the playoffs. Sharks in 6.
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