What a game. This one had everything. Hatred? Check. The usual hack and whack stuff from the Sharks? Double check. Great goaltending at both ends? Well, more at the Canucks end, as Luongo was brilliant in this one, though Niemi was pretty good in spurts as well. Another aspect was the hopefully reversal of the "popular opinion" of opposing fanbases with the way the Sharks played tonight.
The hack and whack is a standard for these guys, but there were a couple penalties that were "helped", shall we say. This game had a lot of stuff happening, and though the officials were not great, it was one of those games that must be tough to call, as things were happening almost every shift. ( It should be noted that both coaches mentioned the officials in bewildered tones afterwards tonight ) As for the "class" aspect, well, it has become blatantly obvious that Joe Thornton has none. That move on Hank while the penalties were being explained was simply a no class thing to do. Perhaps he should have stayed with the Bruins after all huh? He would fit right in now!
NHL ( lots of clips...)
The game started out with a great pace, before the thuggery ( from both sides ) was attempted. Brent Burns simply bad night began early, as he tripped Manny Malhotra in his own end to draw the game's first penalty. The Canuck power play had some great movement without much else, but soon afterwards, some poor own zone coverage by Vlasic allowed Daniel Sedin to beat him to a dump in. his pass to his brother, and the one back did not look like it should have drawn Niemi THAT far away from his post, but he was out of position, and allowed a bit of a stinker from Daniel on the wrap around to go in for the game's first goal.
The home team had a chance soon after to tie the score, when Pavelski beat both Hamhuis and Bieksa and took a long stretch pass. Little Joe was simply robbed by Roberto Luongo and his glove to keep them off the scoresheet. The back and forth continued in a solid third period that, for Canuck fans, was a little troubling in regards to the face offs lost. They were strong on the puck along the boards when they did lose the puck.
At times. It is a hallmark of the Sharks game that they get it deep and are very tough on the forecheck. When they could get in, they made it tough on the Canucks, but when they did not, the visitors were very good at their breakouts. One of those led to a great Ryan Kesler rush that forced two saves on the backhand. There were others in a back and forth period, but the home team would find themselves down one after twenty.
Digits ; The faceoff battle of two of the top teams at it so far this season went to the home team in the first ( and the game )with a 12-5 edge. They were credited with 13 hits to 8 for the visitors, while San Jose blocked 8 shots to 7 for the Canucks. Kesler and Raymond led the team with 3 shots each in the first period, while Bieksa and Lapierre had two hits each.
The second period did not start out well for the home team's big defensive acquisition either. In Brent Burns defense, it was a call that could have been let go, but he did indeed put the clamps on Andrew Alberts ( deep in the offensive zone too ), and the Canucks were on the power play. The Sharks had a pretty dangerous looking rush on a turnover early in it, but Ryan Kesler turned on the boosters and nullified it with a great backcheck. The #1 power play turned it on, and a patient Alexander Edler bomb ( waiting for a lane ) was saved, but no one had Kesler, and he backhanded the rebound home for a 2-0 lead.
Antti Niemi looked shaky on a Jannik Hansen slapper ( he looked behind, and had no idea the puck was in front of him, with only the ref bailing him out with a quick whistle ), but he made an amazing save on Daniel Sedin ( on a simply stunning Alexandre Burrows one timer pass ) in on a break to keep it at two.
So, when Henrik Sedin had a blind backhand pass picked off by Couture, Marleau and Logan Couture went off the other way, and the Shark young gun beat Luongo short side with a bullet to make it 2-1. The very next shift though, Jumbo Joe took the dumbest of all the calls this night, hacking and hooking Henrik all the way up the ice, until the stick was too far into the hands to not be called. This one looked pretty good, but did not get a shot on net, the closest chance a Cody Hodgson tip of a very slick Bieksa shot/pass that just went wide.
Right after though, Niemi made probably his best save when Henrik and Daniel were on a two on one. Daniel looked to have him beat on the deke, but Niemi just flat out robbed him. On a offensive zone face off soon after, the Canucks got the first of a few bad breaks from the officials. Andrew Ebbett was just checking the stick of Dan Boyle when it fell in two ( he should have got them at Cyclone Taylor's ), and the "slashing" call that was anything but was made. It was made worse by Joe Thornton walking out of the corner easily ( perhaps because of an uncalled hook / trip on Edler ) and using the traffic in front, and making a nice shot high to beat Luongo's glove and tie the score at 2-2.
It looked like we would get to the end of the period without any more fireworks, but a solid battle between Burrows and Thornton ( maybe a Burrows slash to the ankle was missed ) resulted in the Sharks captain being just plain old dumb again, crosschecking Burrows in front of the net. Twice. In the head. The refs had to call that, and the Canucks would start the third with the man advantage.
statistically speaking ; Vancouver expanded the shots edge ( 9-8 in the first ) to 22-18 after forty. 16-11 in blocks for the home team, as well as the Canucks missing 14 shots to 5 belied the facts that the Canucks were doing quite well in the first two periods. The Sharks would be up 8-2 in the PIM count, and still dominant on the draws, at 22-13 after two, as well as being up 22-16 on hits at that point as well. Kesler led his team with 4 shots ( D. Sedin, Raymond each had 3 ) while Lapierre and Burrows each had 3 hits to lead the Canucks in that stat.
The Sharks were the more dominant team in the third period. Lucky for the Canucks, we have Roberto Luongo. He was wonderful. He was strong on a Winchester wraparound, and withstood about 5 people in his crease. The dominance of the home team would be assisted by the calls ( perhaps with the Canucks having a 4-1 PP edge, they wanted to even it up? ) when Douglas Murray dropped his stick while being checked by Kesler and was somehow judged to have been the victim of a slash. The penalty kill was mainly solid, though in the last 40 seconds, Burrows must have been thought to have dived when he was dumped by Handzuz on a play that led to a scoring chance no less! The PK got it done though, with the assistance of the goaltender.
One of the stranger chances of the period led to a couple more simply huge saves for the Canuck #1 tender. A point shot was partly blocked and went high in the air, only to fall right in Jamie McGinn's wheeelhouse in close. Luongo robbed him with two pads saves that were even harder with bodies all over the place.
Shortly afterwards, the intensity in an already intense third period was turned up another notch. McGinn and Kesler came together in the corner ( I think it was Alberts there too, who may have helped the Shark to the ice with an uncalled stick in the midsection ). "Bull" gave him a shot on the ice, McGinn a poke in the face, and the ref used the way his head went back to send them both off. What was hilarious though, was after that, all the players on the ice not wearing goalie equipment paired off. While it could have easily been a case of taking more guys off, the officials decided to take the original two only.
That was about where their game management went very far askew. For one, when it was being explained, Joe Thornton was shoving his fingers in Hank's face repeatedly, in a very bush league thing from a bush league player. I like Joe's game when he just plays, but a more experienced official would have sent him to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Because that is what it was, plain and simple.
So, when Daniel Sedin was sent off for a "high stick" that was barely a touch soon after, it seemed that the Sharks were going to get the definitive break. Yes, the stick was up. It was Daniel Sedin though folks. He did not even follow through. But really, it was a fine example of how other team do what the Canucks get accused of far too much for their actions, as "Pickle" went down like he was shot. I think he was even trying to bite his lip to draw blood! In a game where the Sharks and Canucks were getting away with worse just moments before, it was questionable to say the least.
With a 4 on 3 power play, it looked like the Canucks were in tough, but with Luongo's help ( a simply great save on Clowe in close was a game saver ) and the penalty killers really buckling down, they got away with no damage. That is why the next call was so disgusting. I like Jamie McGinn's game. He plays hard, but when he grabbed his face with 1:38 left in the period, on a play where replays clearly show the stick of Bieksa trying to check him made no contact with his face, I lost a bit of that affection for his game. Its not gamesmanship Sharks fans. Its not even embellishment. There was nothing there to embellish from. It was out and out fakery, and it gave the home team another power play with less than two minutes left. Again, its hard to blame the refs when a player does that. One only hopes it goes in the memory banks. Because in this game, it was the visitors that played the game right, not the guys in teal.
It was apparent that it made the entire Canuck team angry though. They played the penalty kill like they were angry, and prevented any real chances thoughout it, and the the 23 seconds that were left in the overtime as well. The Terror Twins were especially good on the decisive kill.
Its funny. When teams get to four on four, some go for it, and some don't. The Sharks did not really try to get up the ice that often. They had one shot in o/t. Kevin Bieksa though, the guy that was sent off for a phantom call, was playing the extra time like a man possessed. First, he went off limping on an early shift, and returned without missing a shift. Second, he showed that he was OK with a great rush into open space on a subsequent shift that forced the play. It led to this...
Notice how he reloads the shot? Remember the guy I said had a bad game? Yep, that is Brent Burns inexplicably leaving Andrew Ebbett in front. He made the tip, Niemi had no chance, and a very exciting game was over.
final numbers ; The Canucks were beaten in the face off circle about the worst they have been all season, at 37-19. They were outhit 30-24, and outshot 35-30. But they also gave it away 13 times to 10. The blocks (21-16 Sharks ) and missed shots (Canucks missed 19 to 9 for the Sharks ) showed who was sending more rubber towards the net.
On to Anaheim. Cory Schneider gets the start. I highly recommend that you check the stats lines at teh ESPN link for the defensemen points and lines. Hint ; Edler and Bieksa had 2 assists each!