SAN JOSE -- Goalie Antti Niemi finished with 28 saves for the Sharks in Sunday's 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks at a raucous HP Pavilion. His teammates had 20 blocked shots.

All of it has helped the Sharks take a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series and put the offensively frustrated Canucks on the verge of elimination. Game 4 is Tuesday at HP Pavilion.

The Sharks have held the Canucks to five goals in the first three games of this opening-round playoff series. Only one of those Vancouver goals has come on the power play, as Niemi and the Sharks improved to 6-0 against the Canucks this year.

Niemi was busy in the first period with 14 saves as the Canucks had 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 power-play opportunities. But the Sharks helped to nullify any advantage the Canucks had with 10 blocked shots, including three by Logan Couture and two each from Dan Boyle and Scott Hannan.

"It's been very solid," Niemi said of the defense in front of him. "Taking care of the front of the net, not letting (the Canucks) stand there. Clearing rebounds. Blocking shots on the penalty kill. It's been great."

"You've got to get in lanes," Couture said. "You have to do whatever you can to held Niemi out. He's making some big saves. If we can get into the lanes and block as many shots as we can, we're just going to help him out even more."

Niemi clearly outplayed counterpart Cory Schneider, who was making his debut in the series for Vancouver after missing the first two games with an undisclosed injury. Schneider had 23 saves and was pulled after Couture scored with 15:53 left in the third period to give San Jose a 5-1 lead.

Such defensive efforts are nothing new for the Sharks and Niemi, who helped the team to 14 wins in the final 25 games he started in the regular season.

Niemi has carried that momentum into the playoffs. He entered Sunday's game with a save percentage of .951, as he allowed just three goals and made 58 saves in the first two contests in Vancouver.

On Sunday, Niemi faced 22 shots in the first two periods, allowing only a slap-shot goal by Alex Burrows with 8:53 left in the second period to cut San Jose's lead to 2-1.

Henrik Sedin took a long pass from twin brother Daniel for a 2-on-1, then fed a cross-ice pass to Burrows, whose shot floated over Niemi's blocker.

It would get no closer. In the blur of the third period when the Sharks scored three times in the first 4:07, Vancouver was held to just four shots in the first 11 minutes of the final period.

"I believe we have the skill to score some goals, the right amount of goals," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "We just didn't prove it tonight."

Vancouver scored again when Derek Roy took the puck away from Sharks defenseman Justin Braun, who was attempting to break away from the San Jose net. Roy chopped Braun's stick away from him, stole the puck and fed Dan Hamhuis, whose shot found the net above Niemi's blocker.

Such giveaways were rare for the Sharks in April, when coach Todd McLellan's message of team defense finally sunk in. Only three times in the last 14 games did the Sharks allow more than three goals to an opposing team.