Conference Finals – Day 4

Vancouver CanucksVancouver vs. San Jose – What looked to be another one goal game, was blown wide open in the third period as Vancouver picked up four goals. The goal-happy third period Canucks edged out a 7-3 victory in game two, and proved that maybe Antti Niemi is human in the process.

Early in the first, it was Logan Couture getting on the board first for the Sharks. His power-play goal came just 2:28 into the game. Seven minutes later, it was Daniel Sedin matching with a power-play goal of his own after a nice give-and-go with brother Henrik. Raffi Torres gave the Canucks the 2-1 lead just 40 seconds later after a beautiful centering pass from Christian Ehrhoff. Patrick Marleau continues to make a climb out of his “gutless” hole, as he barely squeezed the puck past Roberto Luongo. After a review, the puck crossed the line and the game was all tied at two.

The second period was slow in terms of goal scoring, but had enough action to see the Canucks take the lead once again. This time it was Kevin Bieksa who skated in all alone, after a great Chris Higgins pass, and beat Niemi five-hole. At the end of two, the Canucks held the advantage 3-2.

At 7:56 and 11:41 of the third, the Canucks built on their lead with two power-play goals. The first came from Chris Higgins, and the second from Daniel Sedin. The Sedin tally was his team leading 8th goal of the playoffs. The Canucks weren’t finished there, as they picked up a goal from Aaron Rome, and another from Mason Raymond, to capture a 7-2 advantage. Ben Eager would pick up his first post-season goal at 17:27, but at this point it was too little, too late. The Canucks skate away with a 7-3 blow out victory and a 2-0 lead in the series.

The Sedin twins, who were somewhat missing in the semifinals against Nashville, have regained their scoring touch against the Sharks. Henrik Sedin has five points in the series thus far, while brother Daniel has picked up two goals. The depth scoring has also continued for Vancouver, which is a great sign this late in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Ryan Kesler has been slow to start this series, only grabbing an assist in game one and staying off the scoresheet in game two. He will be relied on to pick it up when things get tough, but right now the Canucks are doing well without his scoring touch. Kesler still leads the team in points, as well as plus/minus, in the playoffs.

Antti Niemi remained in the entire game, despite letting in seven goals in the loss. Prior to last night, the most he had let in during this post-season was four goals (twice against Detroit, twice against LA). He was pulled, in favor of Antero Niittymaki, twice in the LA series, but had a very strong series against Detroit. Perhaps the luck is beginning to run out for Niemi. He’ll look to rebound in game three at home, but if the Canucks can get to him early, they might be able to chase him once again.

Dany Heatley picked up an assist on the Couture goal, but is still having a hard time finding the back of the net on his own. The San Jose sniper has gone five games without a goal now, and has only scored three in the playoffs thus far. Devin Setoguchi, who had a real good series against Detroit, has now gone two games without a point. Vancouver has been effectively shutting him down, and to make matters worse, he was a minus three in last night’s effort. Let’s also keep in mind that Ryane Clowe, who had been playing terrific, has not had a point in the three games since returning from “the flu.” Coincidence or not, his confidence has been falling ever since the big hit he took from Niklas Kronwall.






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