It started out as a night of uncertainty on every front. Which San Jose Sharks team would show up? Can Patrick Marleau even score post season goals? Which Roberto Luongo will be between the pipes tonight? Why do the Sedins drink from their water bottles at the same time? Antti Niemi is having a firecracker season for San Jose, while Vancouver has been less than consistent, which goaltender would show up tonight? Somewhere, Niemi is sitting silently with his hand raised. The answer, by the way, is yes, Marleau can score, and he did, giving the Sharks a 3-1 victory and taking game 1.
With an uncertain goaltender in the pipes getting a lot of a shots on your own net isn’t a favorable situation. That being said Roberto Luongo made some fairly nice saves and looked to be the Luongo that makes clutch saves. Of the shots he was peppered with in the first period none were allow entry across the goal line, and his teammates started sacrificing the body early with 8 blocked shots through period 1. There were two different games going on on the ice in the first. San Jose looked less like they wanted to engage in the rough and tumble checking game Vancouver had in mind, with Kevin Bieksa leading the charge.
The opening salvo of the second period brought about much the same. San Jose leading much of the possession from a shots on goal perspective. While Van-City took the opening 2 penalties of the game in the first period, San Jose would draw the next two, putting Vancouver on the powerplay twice in the first half of the second period. Not the best move when that power play is firing on all cylinders. Scoring at this point however looks like it’s going to come at a premium, and with Martin Havlat leaving the ice, the scoring touch for the Sharks looks slightly diminished. The second period, while not a frenzy of activity seemed to shake some of the early playoff jitters from the Canucks, as possession in the offensive zone was theres for a significant portion of play through the period. The forecheck was in full force. And when you forecheck is clicking what do you end up with? How about Jannik Hansen pushing pucks across the line from the crease? Turning their fortunes around, the Canucks take the lead 1-0 just over midway through the second period. The goal would ultimately be given to Bieksa after the replays. While it looked like this would be the turning point for the Canucks, a bad penalty sends them reeling to the penalty kill, and it was only a matter of time before we all knew what would happen. One of the penalty kills would crack.
Logan Couture left all alone in the slot, snipes it past Luongo and this game is tied up. With that, the ice titled, just enough to let the Sharks skate downhill a little bit. Into the third period, a lose puck squirts into the high slot, only to be met with the waiting stick of Dan Boyle. With no hesitation, Boyle makes this a 2-1 game. Later in a game that looked like it would get out of hand for the Canucks in the first, the game was put out of reach by none other than Patrick Marleau. His insurance marker, put the Sharks up 3-1 and let them walk away with a 1-0 series lead.
SENSHOT 3 STARS
1 – Antti Niemi
2- Dan Boyle
3- Roberto Luongo