It's the best time of year!
With a 7-3 win in Wednesday's Game 2, the Vancouver Canucks took a commanding 2-0 series lead and hold all of the momentum as the scene shifts to San Jose. Yet, for the second straight game, it was inopportune mistakes that cost the Sharks a chance to win.
On the first two Vancouver goals, the Sedins were given too much space to operate and Joe Pavelski was out-muscled by Raffi Torres in front of the net. Despite that, the game was pretty even for the first 30 minutes. It was all knotted up, 2-2. But from that point on, everything just went downhill for Todd McLellan’s Sharks.
Midway through the second period, Kevin Bieksa (!) sprung loose on a breakaway to put Vancouver on top 3-2. How do you let a defenseman get a breakaway? (Antti Niemi’s yawning five-hole did not help, either.)
Later on in the period, Patrick Marleau decided to drop the gloves with Bieksa, for what I’m sure was an attempt to fire up his teammates. To contrast from everyone laughing at Marleau for getting pummeled in the fight, kudos to him for trying to create some much-needed energy. He was, in fact, the one to drop the gloves first.
Then Ben Eager took over… not in a good way.
If the Marleau fight gave his bench a lift at all, it was sapped quickly by Eager’s bone-headed hit on Daniel Sedin 1:34 later. It was a blatant boarding call; one that only garnered two minutes in the penalty box. Canucks Head Coach Alain Vigneault was livid, looking for a five-minute major (which it should have been). That hit seemed to wake up the Canucks in a huge way.
After another Eager penalty (an obvious and unnecessary trip) seven minutes into the third, Chris Higgins made him pay with a power play goal. Minutes later with Vancouver leading 4-2, the Sharks were called for too many men on the ice. Daniel Sedin scored his second of the night on the ensuing man advantage, the second of three Canucks power play goals on the night. The rout was officially on as they ran away with a 7-3 victory.
From San Jose’s point of view, the start was exactly what they needed; they jumped out early, 2:28 in, and grabbed the lead. But mistakes cost them the chance to win this game, similarly to what happened in the third period of Game 1. That’s not to say they ‘should have’ won this game; but the game got away from their grasp because they continued to shoot themselves in the foot.
Aside from the never-ending penalties, San Jose’s defense was once again burned by the opposition. Dating back to the second round, McLellan’s gang has given up 160 shots in the last four games. That’s not going to win you many playoff games.
Eager, who made four separate trips to the Sin Bin and should sit in Game 3 (suspenion or not), was out of control for last the last 25 minutes. It was a parade to the penalty box for the Sharks. Not to mention the defensive- and neutral-zone breakdowns at even strength and on the penalty kill.
The Sharks are now headed back home facing an 0-2 deficit – an ugly one at that. If they don’t fix their miscues and discipline, this is going to be a quick series.
Photo credit: Getty Images
at 11:40 PM
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