SAN JOSE Perhaps getting into the spirit of playoff gamesmanship, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Saturday he wouldn't mind if the Vancouver Canucks started Cory Schneider in goal for Game 3 of the teams' opening-round playoff series tonight at HP Pavilion.
For undisclosed reasons, Schneider missed the final two games of the regular season and did not dress in their first two playoff games against the Sharks. But he made the trip to San Jose on Saturday, leading to speculation he'll be in net tonight.
Schneider went 17-9-4 this season and was in net for Vancouver in all three of its regular-season meetings with the Sharks, who swept the season series.
Backup goalie Roberto Luongo started the first two games of the series and was especially solid for Vancouver in Game 2, making 30 saves, including 10 in a busy first period.
"It may be a great thing for us. Luongo's been tremendous," McLellan said. "If they want to take that quality of a goaltender out of the lineup and go to the other one, we'll take our chances with that as well."
Before his team left for the Bay Area, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told reporters Schneider's status is still day-to-day. Per Canucks team policy, injured or ill players are not made available to the media.
Entering the series, Schneider practiced and said he wanted to play in Game 1, and Vigneault on Wednesday morning said Schneider was ready to play. Schneider, though, was scratched from the lineup, and Joe Cannata was the backup.
"If we throw the same chances we've thrown on Luongo, hopefully we'll get the same results," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. "It has to be about us and what we're doing, and we can't get away from it whether it's Luongo or Schneider in the net. We have to get traffic there, and we have to get pucks there."
Winger Brent Burns is doing his part in that regard. He had two assists Friday, including his perfect pass to Raffi Torres on a two-on-one in overtime that gave San Jose a 3-2 victory. McLellan, though, said Burns would have been just as dangerous shooting in that situation.
"Coming down the wing, he can shoot the puck as hard as anybody I've seen," McLellan said, adding Burns is like former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Wendel Clark with his wrist shot and snap shot.
"That may have fooled the Vancouver players. Every one of us on the bench was yelling, 'Shoot it, shoot it.' Until we said, 'Good pass.' Then it was over."
Playing mainly as a defenseman, Burns has one goal and six assists in 18 career playoff games over four seasons, including two with Minnesota in 2007 and 2008.
"I remember playing against Colorado (in 2008) when I was with Minnesota and playing defense, matching up against (Peter) Forsberg," Burns said. "I still think of that as some of the most fun I've had and the best hockey that I've played."
Meanwhile, McLellan is optimistic center Scott Gomez will be available to play tonight. Gomez, out because of soreness since he took a big hit April 23 against Dallas, skated again Saturday at the practice facility. He skated before Games 1 and 2 but was held out of the lineup both times.
"There's no doubt we'd like to get him into the series," McLellan said. "He makes a big difference to our team, especially with the power play."