The fourth game of the Western Conference Final was situated in San Jose, California. I know that. But it must have almost seemed a home game for the Canucks, with what had to be at least four thousand fans that made the trip. AV said afterwards how great it was to have such support. They sang Oh Canada loud and proud. (certainly better than whomever was the lounge singer the San Jose guys hired for it! ) They supported their team very well. Kudos to all that made the trip.
It looked like it was going to be a repeat of the last game, as the Vancouverites took four straight minor penalties in the first period. The Canuck penalty killers did a much better job though. Blocking shots was something done by everyone. Luongo made some big, big saves when he had to.
The Canucks could have actually had the first goal on a short handed chance for Raymond, but Niemi made a huge save. They dodged a huge bullet with all the early calls. Sure, some looked more like calls then the others. But they did the same thing I am going to do on calls. Just put their heads down and deal with it. The Sharks had three straight power plays in the first, and would start the second with the man advantage.
Once again the penalty killers came up big for Raffi, and when Hamhuis barely touched Marleau on a rush as the first penalty ended, and was called, the traveling fans let out an audible groan. But Luongo and his penalty killers did a great job, and the Sharks were frustrated now.
The whole game seemed to change on a Heatley penalty though, when he high sticked Hodgson to put the visitors on the man advantage. The penalty kill looked OK, but then Torrey Mitchell got caught up with Daniel Sedin and took an unlucky penalty to give the Canucks the two man advantage. The same thing occurred last game, but this time the execution was fabulous, and the big shot of Salo was hitting net.
Check out these three goals in 1:55. Henrik Sedin was the catalyst on all three.
1st…a great one timer from Ryan Kesler.
The second 5 on 3 resulted from a too many men call. That’s almost automatic.
The third straight five on three came when Murray shot a puck out from inside his own blue line. That IS automatic…Salo really walked into this one.
Suddenly the Canucks were ahead 3-0, with less than 10 shots on net! The Shark Tank sounded different this game as a result. One of the loudest buildings in the NHL was effectively neutered by the traveling band of Vancouver fanatics. They may have pulled back a little as a result, but the defense was solid on the Sharks trying to get back in. The fourth line of the Sharks, (good all game again ) was matched better by the Canuck 4th liners. And, should we really be surprised that Ballard got one of these in? Seemed appropriate that it was on the guy that knocked out two blue liners in the last game.
What a collision. He and Tanev both had a strong game. The second finished with the Sharks again outshooting the Canucks ( it was 18 to 10 through two ). It should be noted that both teams blocked shots well again, but the visiting team was far better at it, at 23 to 9. ( Salo and Hamhuis both had 5 blocks to lead their team )
The third period, lets face it, it was all Sharks. They outshot the Canucks 17 to 3, and scored twice. But they would be down by four before they started their attempted comeback, because the top line got on the score sheet five on five. Check out this amazing pass from Henrik to Burrows. A pass through the five hole? Wow.
Credit the Sharks though. The Canucks will say they were being responsible, but they sat back a little too much with the 4-0 lead. It led to a couple goals, neither one that I would really blame Luongo for. The first was on a tip by Desjardins in the slot to beat the goalie…
The second occurred on one of the few times the defenders of the Canucks were sloppy on a rush in their own end. Couture made a nice pass to Clowe, and he ripped it home.
It was too little too late though, thanks to Luongo. He made a huge save on a screened Boyle shot to prevent them getting any closer than two.
So, in a final period where they had 17 shots against, can you say the Canucks had a good defensive period? Yes, because they did. The Clowe goal was one of the few times they Sharks had a guy get free. Luongo made some big saves, and there was lots of traffic, but the Canucks just outworked their opposition this afternoon.
It sets up the chance to clinch at home. Hopefully they come out and get more than 13 shots, and get the same result!
See ya Tuesday.