SAN JOSE -- Patrick Marleau made it all sound so simple.
The Sharks swept the Vancouver Canucks out of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-3 overtime victory Tuesday night at HP Pavilion when a power-play shot by Joe Thornton trickled past Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider and appeared to be coming to a stop in the crease behind him.
"I was just going to the net, found some garbage again and was able to put it in the back," Marleau said of his series-winning tap-in as he tumbled to the ice at 13:18 of the extra period.
But getting to that point was anything that simple for a Sharks team that knocked out a playoff opponent without suffering a loss for the first time in franchise history, and now gets some extended time off while the rest of the Western Conference continues to battle it out.
The Sharks carried a 2-1 lead into the final period on a first-period goal by Brent Burns and the first of two power-play tallies by Joe Pavelski sandwiched around one by Canucks forward Mason Raymond.
But the Canucks came out strong for the final 20 minutes. Two goals just 110 seconds apart by Alex Burrows and Alexander Edler gave Vancouver a 3-2 lead with 8:58 left in the game and things were not going the Sharks' way.
"Obviously we weren't playing the way we wanted to," Pavelski said of the third period letdown. "We sat back in our d-zone. When we did get a puck and had a chance to skate, we just stood there. We were saying all the right things, but we weren't doing it."
The Sharks -- and Pavelski -- weren't through, however, and his second power-play goal of the night knotted things at 3-3 and eventually sent the game into overtime.
"We knew what had to be done, but it took them taking the lead for it to kind of sink in," Pavelski said. "It was, hey, let's wake up, let's get back to playing. We were breathing a little bit again."
That got the Sharks to overtime.
Both teams had good scoring chances, but it took a questionable boarding penalty to Daniel Sedin to set the Sharks up for the Marleau's winning goal that began when Thornton carried the puck into the offensive zone.
"I don't know who was on my left side, but I wanted actually to give it to him," Thornton said. "I just shot, and good thing Patty has wheels to finish it off. It was a good decision."
San Jose had been ahead 3-0 in a series three previous times, and though it never managed a sweep, it did go on to win each -- in six games over the Colorado Avalanche in 2004, in five games over the Detroit Red Wings in 2008 and in seven games against the same Red Wings in 2011.
Earlier in the day, Sharks coach Todd McLellan had played down the importance of sweeping the Canucks, but after the victory, he acknowledged how important it was not to prolong the series.
"It's a big relief," McLellan said. "A lot of investment in that game physically, a lot of energy expelled. The fact that we came away with the win, that we don't have to get on the plane tomorrow, we get some time to rest, will all work in our favor."
And he connected it all back to 2011, when the Sharks lost the chance for a few days off before the Western Conference finals against Vancouver, a series San Jose lost in five games.
"The seven games against Detroit after being up 3-0 didn't help us going into the next series," McLellan said. "Bumps and bruises add up. Fatigue, travel -- just stress alone."
The last three teams to eliminate the Canucks from the playoffs -- the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings -- all went on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Sharks now hope to extend that streak to four.
Without that added stress.
Notebook: Sharks respond to Canuck Kevin Bieksa's embellishment charge. Page 6
Read David Pollak's "Working the Corners" blog at www.mercurynews.conm/sharks