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Canucks take Game 1 of Conference Finals
Sharks blow another 3rd period lead
5/15/11 - By Mike Lee -

Holding 3rd period leads has never been an issue for the San Jose Sharks. The playoffs have proven to be a very different situation for San Jose, who surrendered 2 goals in the 3rd period on Sunday night to drop Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks. San Jose looked poised to steal the series opener before a raucous Vancouver crowd, but clutch goal by Kevin Bieksa and a questionable penalty setup the game winner by Henrik Sedin.

Sedin's power play goal was the only tally Vancouver would muster, even though they held a 4-to-1 advantage in power play chances.

The discrepancy gave the Sharks little opportunity to establish much offensive presence, but they would score a pair of goals and carried the lead into the final 20 minutes. San Jose leveraged a big turnover and their lone power play on the night to score their goals.

That would still prove too little, after the Canucks clawed back in the 3rd period.

Bieksa knotted the game at 2-2 on a shot from the right dot after taking a cross ice pass from Alex Burrows from the left corner. Burrows created the chance by scooping up a dump in by Henrik Sedin and finding the Canucks defenseman on the far side.

Dany Heatley took a questionable elbowing penalty on the next shift setting up the game winner for Vancouver. Henrik Sedin took a feed from former Sharks defenseman Christian Ehroff as he cut across the slot and slid a shot into a wide open net after Antti Niemi was caught against the left post.

The Canucks comeback was tough to swallow after the Sharks had played a decent 40 minutes on the road. San Jose had everything rolling for them prior to that final period.

Joe Thornton was tossed from the faceoff circle before the opening faceoff was even dropped as he started butting heads with Ryan Kesler. The Sharks captain was sending a message to the Canucks that he would deliver on later in the game.

Douglas Murray was called for high sticking at 9:09 of the opening period after catching Kesler in the Sharks zone. The Sharks would extinguish the threat by killing the penalty rather easily and denying any shots on goal.

Ben Eager was called for goaltender interference after he checked former Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff into Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. Once again, the Sharks penalty killers did an effective job of nullifying the Canucks attack.

San Jose drew first blood in the series off a major gaff by Luongo. Trying to clear a puck that made its way deep into the Vancouver zone, Luongo threw the puck up ice from the right of his own goal, favoring the left wing boards. Thornton was skating out of the right corner and used his long reach to intercept the pass. The Sharks captain immediately whipped the puck on net. Lungo was late to get back as the puck slid under his diving attempt to stop the shot.

Even after spending 4 of 20 minutes killing penalties, the Sharks ended the period with the lead. Vancouver out-shot San Jose 11-10 in the period, but the Sharks gladly traded that for the advantage on the scoreboard.

Vancouver would answer 1:49 into the 2nd period on Maxim Lapierre's 1st goal of the playoffs. Niemi cycled the puck around the boards, where Raffi Torres chipped back behind the Sharks net. Jannik Hansen was there to scoop up the pass and make the feed under Kyle Wellwood's stick to Lapierre in the slot for the one time chance past Niemi.

The Sharks penalty woes continued moments later when Kent Huskins was forced to take a hooking penalty after the Canucks had a break up the left wing. The Canucks obliged once again with an anemic attempt at scoring with the man advantage.

Mason Raymond put the Sharks on the power play for the first time in the series at 7:44 after clutching Joe Pavelski in the Sharks zone. San Jose capitalized when Patrick Marleau redirected a Dan Boyle shot past Luongo for his 4th goal of the playoffs. Marleau was lurking in the slot when he got is stick blade on the waist high shot.

Niclas Wallin tried to answer the Canucks physical play by planting Vancouver's captain, Daniel Sedin, into the end boards with a big hit on the next shift.

Pavelski missed on a golden chance with 7 minutes to play in the period on a feed from behind the Canucks net, but his shot was blocked by Ehrhoff's skate.

Niemi came up huge with 2:30 left in the period when the Canucks collapsed on the net after Marc-Edouard Vlasic's stick broke on a clearing attempt. The Canucks peppered Niemi from point blank range, but the Sharks netminder made a series of saves. He stoned Hansen 30 second s later on a shot from the doorstep. Niemi kicked his left pad out to stone the would-be goal from the top of the crease.

Bieksa's goal erased all the Sharks momentum and was the prelude for a stinker of a finish.

Heatley's penalty was crippling for San Jose. Vancouver already had the momentum off Bieksa's goal, but the gift-wrapped man-advantage finally figured out how to get a puck past Niemi.

The two teams would take off-setting minors with 2:24 left in regulation, then Sharks head coach Todd McLellan pulled Niemi with 90 seconds left. The Canucks iced several pucks, denying any miracles for San Jose.


Game Notes



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 0 2
VAN 0 1 2 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Thornton 3 (unassisted), 18:47.
2nd period - 2, Lapierre 1 (Hansen, Torres), 1:49. 3, SJ, Marleau 4 (Boyle, Thornton), 8:44, (pp).
3rd period - 4, VAN, Bieksa 2 (Burrows, H. Sedin), 7:02. 5, VAN, H. Sedin 2 (Ehrhoff, Kesler), 8:21, (pp).
Penalties
1st period - Murray, SJ (high sticking), 9:09; Eager, SJ (goaltender interference), 13:16.
2nd period - Huskins, SJ (hooking), 3:52; Raymond, VAN (holding), 7:44.
3rd period - Heatley, SJ (elbowing), 7:34; Boyle, SJ (holding), 17:36; Lapierre, VAN (diving), 17:36.
Overtime -
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 38 35
VAN - Luongo 29 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 10 12 7 29
VAN 11 14 13 38
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 1
VAN 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Henrik Sedin
Antti Niemi
Kevin Bieksa
Attendence
18,860
Officials
Referees: Walkom, Kozari. Linesmen: Sharrers, Devorski.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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