Even as the Canucks advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1994, there were some questions surrounding the team.
Among them, what happened to the best third period team in the NHL after they squandered lead after lead in the first two rounds of these playoffs? Can the Sedins elevate their game as Ryan Kesler has?
For one game, at least, they answered the bell.
The Canucks vastly outplayed the San Jose Sharks in game 1 of this series. And though they trailed early in the third period – it was only the second time all playoffs the Canucks started the third period trailing to the other team – they saved the best for last and kept coming at a San Jose team that seemed to have all sorts of problems dealing with the Canucks’ forecheck. They peppered Niemi with shots and traffic until the Sedins finally broke him, and for the fourth time in five games, the Sharks ended up giving up a third period lead.
Henrik Sedin. Hank had a goal and an assist in a span of 1:19 in the third period to help turn a 2-1 deficit to a 3-2 lead. He also won 12 of his 17 faceoffs (71% FO %), including 10 of his 13 in the offensive zone (77% FO %).
Kyle Wellwood. After his verbal jabs at the Canucks, Welly finished game 1 with a mostly invisible 10:53 minutes of ice-time, one shot and a minus-1 rating.
- 4. The Canucks had 4 powerplays and converted on 1 of them; the Sharks went converted on their one and only powerplay opportunity. It was only the 3rd time in 14 playoff games – and only the 5th time in 33 games since the trade deadline – that the Canucks had more PPs than their opponents.
- 2. Hank had 2 points, but so did Joe Thornton. In 20:47 minutes of ice-time, Jumbo Joe had a goal, an assist, 5 shots, a hit and a blocked shot, and won 67% of his faceoffs (10-for-15). He looked dangerous all night – actually, for much of the playoffs – and looks primed to shed his playoff underperformer label.
- 12. Hank, Daniel and Alex Burrows combined for 12 shots – their highest total since game 1 of the Nashville series.
- 12. The Canucks’ defense also combined for 12 shots.
The Next Time
The Canucks played what was arguably their best overall game in these playoffs and took advantage of what looked like an exhausted Sharks team in the latter part of the game. It will be interesting to see how the two days off between games 1 and 2 will affect both teams.