The Vancouver Canucks were shut down offensively in Wednesday’s opening game of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, falling to the San Jose Sharks 3-1 at Rogers Arena.
Just 2:36 into the game, Dale Weise was sent off for high sticking. What transpired next was pure art. Roberto Luongo, named the Game 1 starter just hours earlier, stopped 7 shots, as the Sharks were able to keep the puck in their offensive zone for nearly the entire power play. Luongo stopped shot after shot, proving that the ugly finale against the Oilers was a thing of the past.
The Canucks played well defensively, allowing just one shot while both teams were at full strength during the first half of the opening period.
By the end of the first period, Luongo had stopped all 15 shots he faced, calming down those who were skeptical of how he would respond to a rough ending to the regular season.
Halfway through the second period, the Canucks were finally able to sustain some offensive pressure at the end of their second power play. Alex Edler nearly opened the scoring just as the power play came to an end, but the puck trickled over the top of the net as the game remain tied.
At 12:26 in the second period, the Canucks opened the scoring off a chaotic goal from Jannik Hansen. As the puck hung in front of Antti Niemi, Hansen came in and pushed the puck in past Niemi amidst all the chaos to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead.
With just over three minutes to go, the Sharks finally beat Luongo on the power play as Logan Couture sniped a shot on net to tie the game at one goal apiece. With all the pressure the Sharks were putting on net during their power plays, it seemed inevitable they’d find a way to beat Luongo.
The Canucks were able to tighten up on defense, allowing just six shots on goal during the second period.
Halfway into the final period, the Sharks took the lead off a mad scramble in front of the net. With Luongo down, the puck ricocheted out where Dan Boyle was able to knock it in for the go ahead goal with 10:43 remaining in the game.
At 14:37, Patrick Marleau gave the Sharks a two-goal lead with a shot that trickled off the stick of Dan Hamhuis for his 53rd career playoff goal. The goal proved to be the dagger as the Sharks became the first team in the playoffs so far to win on the road.
The loss was Vancouver’s fifth straight on home ice in the playoffs as they surrendered home ice to the Sharks.
Roberto Luongo made 25 saves on the night while Antti Niemi had 29.
Vancouver’s inability to score is a theme that the team is becoming all too familiar with in the playoffs. The third period also continued to be a problem for the Canucks. This season, Vancouver’s -10-goal differential in the third period was the worst of the 16 playoff teams. Wednesday was no different as they were outscored 2-0 in the final stanza.
The teams will be back at it on Friday night at Rogers Arena with the puck drop at 7:00 pm.