As expected, the St. Louis Blues started game 3 like a desperate team that was already down 2-0 in this series. They came at the Vancouver Canucks in waves. They controlled much of the play and forced the Canucks to take 5 penalties, including 3 by Willie Mitchell in one play midway through the period. After the first 20 minutes, they were outshooting the Canucks 12-5 and leading the game 1-0.
But even under constant pressure, the Canucks didn’t wilt. Roberto Luongo held them in the game, and they regrouped during the first intermission and turned their game around. Just like St. Louis did in the first period, the Canucks dominated the second period. They drew 4 penalties from the Blues, outshot them 13-7 and scored a couple of goals. They entered the third period with the game tied and set the stage for Steve Bernier’s game-winner.
If there’s a trademark for this Canucks team, it’s the way they deal with adversity – they just don’t quit. Back in February, it wasn’t uncommon for them to erase deficits and come back and win games. Surrendering early goals doesn’t faze them and they certainly have the confidence to battle back. Last night was a perfect example when they gave up the first goal only 3 minutes into the game, but stayed within their gameplan.
The physical play doesn’t bother them. Guys are protecting each other and responding smartly – a key I mentioned in my pregame post and something Alain Vigneault mentioned as well after the game:
“Our guys have been [receiving] a lot of cheap shots in this series. To respond with three goals on the power play is pretty satisfying. In playoff hockey, the will is very important.”
And there’s no questioning the Canucks’ will right now.