SAN JOSE, Calif. - Henrik Sedin showed why he's one of the premiere players in the NHL and, in doing so, has the Vancouver Canucks on the verge of reaching the Stanley Cup finals.
The captain recorded assists on all four goals in Vancouver's 4-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in game three of the Western Conference finals. More importantly, he played a steadying role in keeping the Canucks focused even when it looked as though they were making the same mistakes that led to their game three loss.
"If you work hard, you do the right thing, it's going to turn around," Sedin said. "The playoffs are tough in a way that if things aren't going well, you might have a break after one series. It might be summertime. That's the tough part."
Sedin recorded five assists in the first round, a goal and three assists in the second round and now has a goal and nine assists against the Sharks.
"You've got to hang in there and hope the other guys are playing great," Sedin said. "They've been doing that. We need different guys to step up each series. That's why we're here."
Sedin's brilliant execution on Vancouver's power plays also showed that quality trumps quantity any time. The Canucks scored their four goals on a mere 13 shot attempts, and that was after missing all six of their first-period attempts.
"When you give Henrik that much time to make plays he's going to find the open guy," Canucks' Alexandre Burrows said. "He's a magical player. They way he hangs onto the puck, how he can dish it back or forward, or even underneath sticks or through legs, is something special."
Both Henrik and Daniel Sedin were getting criticized for failing to show up so far this playoff season.
It's something that doesn't faze either brother. Daniel Sedin added three assists and each make plays that don't show up on the stat sheet.
"We always want to be productive, that's why we're here," Henrik Sedin said. "That's not going to change. We're living in the moment now. We're in this series. We're looking forward to the next game. We don't have to look back at other series. This is where we are."
They're headed home to Vancouver with a chance to clinch a berth in the finals.
"We've been in this situation before, being up 3-1," said Henrik. "It's not easy to finish teams off. We're going to treat Tuesday as a Game 7. It's a big one for us. We're very excited right now, but we need to be focused on the next game."
Vancouver took the first five penalties of the game and it looked as though they were handing another one to the Sharks. This time, however, the Canucks aggressively attacked San Jose's power play, disrupting it enough times to blank them and lift their own spirits.
"Obviously not the way you want to start but we were getting some pretty iffy calls," Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. "But when you can kill that many off in a row, it builds momentum for us. We survived the first. We got our opportunities in the second and made them pay."
With plenty of help from the Sedin brothers.