The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks by the final score of 4-1 in the first game of the season for both teams. This was the Sharks’ tenth straight win against the Canucks, a streak which dates back to the beginning of last season.
The game started off with a fast pace, and because of it the Sharks earned their first power play of the game. The first power-play unit looked to be in midseason form, and only the crossbar was in the way of an early lead after Joe Thornton ripped a shot that rang off the iron.
Later in the first period the Canucks scored the first goal of the game on their first power play of the season. The Canucks entered the zone, then a nice play from Daniel Sedin to Henrik Sedin ended in a one-time opportunity for Jason Garrison. He buried the shot and gave Vancouver the 1-0 lead, which they carried into the intermission. Overall, 12 different Sharks has shots on net, and ended the period outshooting the Canucks 16-7.
In the second period the San Jose Sharks got their first goal of the season off of a neutral zone turnover. The turnover was created by Thornton at the Vancouver blue line, and then Tomas Hertl picked up the loose puck. Hertl took a few strides, passed it to Brent Burns, who then went short side on Roberto Luongo to tie the game at 1-1. Hertl, who got the primary assist, earned his first career NHL point.
The Canucks then came right back, and just a few minutes later Alex Burrows nailed the post on a shot from Niemi’s doorstep after a perfectly executed two-on-one with Daniel Sedin.
Also, in the second period, the Sharks earned a two-man advantage after the Canucks were called for two separate penalties on the same play. Unfortunately, the Sharks weren’t unable to capitalize on the golden opportunity and the game stayed at a 1-1 tie for the time being.
Then, with 1:53 left in the period, after some sustained zone time, defenseman Justin Braun got his first goal of the season by firing a shot from the point. Credit Logan Couture for providing a great screen in front of Luongo which ultimately led to the goal.
Vancouver got a few shots to tie the game up on the power play early on in the third period but the San Jose penalty kill stood strong. Their best penalty killer was goalie Antti Niemi, and at the tail end of the second power play chance of the period for the Canucks he made his best save of the night off of Chris Higgins.
After the Sharks weathered that storm they began to tighten up defensively. It payed off, as Couture forced another turnover with a great stick-check and with his head on a swivel fired a pass across the ice to his linemate Patrick Marleau who one-timed the pass and got the goal. That was Couture’s second assist of the game, and the goal by Marleau made it 3-1.
Then, just 18 seconds later, Tommy Wingels and Andrew Desjardins broke out on a two-on-none. It wasn’t the prettiest one ever executed, but it got the job done as Wingels banged home a lose puck from the front of the net, and just like that the Sharks held a commanding 4-1 lead. After that the Sharks earned another power play, but used it to kill time more than anything else, and when time ran out it was the Sharks who were the victors.
Some of the takeaways from this game were the fact that all four of San Jose’s goals came at even strength, something that was quite a sore spot last season. Also, while they went 0-for-8 on the power play, it did have plenty of moments where it threatened to score. The second unit needs some work and time to mesh, and it showed. It was nowhere near the first unit in terms of chances. Lastly, the penalty killing was pretty darn good, and even had quite a few scoring chances including a few odd-man rushes.
GGS Three Stars
1. Logan Couture (2 assists)
2. Justin Braun (game winning goal)
3. Joe Pavelski (57% faceoffs)