Sharks Pass Physical Test, Win Game One in Vancouver


May 1, 2013; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; San Jose Sharks defenseman Justin Braun (61) checks Vancouver Canucks center Andrew Ebbett (25) during the second period of game one of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks on the road in game one of the series by the final of 3-1 in what was an extremely physical game between the the two teams.

With the win San Jose is first Western Conference team to win on the road during the playoffs and they did it a gritty fashion.

By the end of this game the hits were 40-26 with Vancouver taking the fairly big advantage.  The Sharks picked their spots, as usual, but were definitely more willing to lay the body than usual.

The Canucks were as well, and it was a very nasty game from start to finish.  I won’t get into it too much, but the officiating, or lack thereof for both teams, probably had a bit to do with that as well.  But I digress.

The first period was very fast paced and the hitting escalated quickly.  San Jose earned their first power play which resulted in seven shots on goal during the man-advantage.  They were unable to score though as Roberto Luongo, who was in for the injured Cory Schneider, was terrific throughout his team’s penalty kill and kept the game scoreless.

By the end of the first period it was the Canucks who had eight blocked shots and led 21-11 in hits.  Meanwhile, San Jose outshot Vancouver 15-9 in a period that they dominated offensively.

Also, Martin Havlat got injured midway through the first period and was first diagnosed as questionable although we found out during the intermission he would not return.  His early departure from the game caused the Sharks to mix their lines up a bit more than they probably would have liked.  One of the biggest chances saw Raffi Torres play quite a bit in Havlat’s place on that top line.

During the second period Vancouver opened with their best chance up until that point in the game just a minute in.  It was a two-on-one that turned into a three-on-two and Antti Niemi made a great stop from point blank range.

That pretty much set the tone for the second period that was pretty much dominated by Vancouver.  They ended up outshooting San Jose 14-6 in the period, the total opposite of the first where the Sharks dominated, thanks to their two power play opportunities.

The Canucks finally broke the scoreless game when Kevin Bieksa was awarded with a goal with a mass of humanity laying in the crease in front of Niemi.  There were bodies flying everywhere due to hits, Sharks flailing to clear the puck, and Canucks trying to knock the puck in.  In the end it was Torres for the Sharks who knocked the puck by Niemi.  Bieksa got the goal because he was the last person to touch it giving Vancouver the 1-0 lead.

Later on in the period, with about 3:30 left, Logan Couture scored on San Jose’s third power play opportunity of the night.  He received a puck in the high slot from Dan Boyle after great player and puck movement by the Sharks’ power play.  He fired the puck from there and, with a lot of bodies in front of Luongo, was able to tie the game at one apiece.

In the third period the Sharks got another power play opportunity just a minute and a half in.  This time Vancouver’s penalty kill was strong and hardly allowed the Sharks into the zone.

Then, at 9:17 of the period, Dan Boyle scores his first goal of the playoffs as he found a loose puck and put it into an open net to make the score 2-1.  The goal was set up by a good forecheck that led to a bit of a scramble in front of the Vancouver net with Joe Pavelski and Andrew Desjardins wreaking havoc in front.

After it looked like the Canucks were really starting to get a push going to try to tie the game the Sharks were able to score again to make the game 3-1.  Once again the goal was set up by a great forecheck, first by Brent Burns and then by Raffi Torres.  Neither of them got the goal, which was awarded to Patrick Marleau, but they definitely make that play happen.  Couture also picked up an assist on a nice pass from behind the net to Marleau who was in front.

At the end of the game the Canucks ended up pulling Roberto Luongo since they needed two goals but ended up falling short and not getting anything.  At the end of it all the Sharks take game one 3-1 in Vancouver and are the first away team in the Western Conference to get a win.

GGS 3 Stars
1. Logan Couture, SJ (1g, 1a)
2. Dan Boyle, SJ (1g, 1a, 2 blocked shots)
3. Kevin Bieksa, VAN (1g, 3 hits)