Improbable Sharks Shocker- Raffi Torres scored the game winning goal at the 5:31 mark of the first overtime period to give the San Jose Sharks an improbable come from behind 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Friday night in British Columbia. Torres followed Brent Burns on a two on one breakaway before taking a perfect feed pass that he was able to drill past Canucks’ goalie Roberto Luongo. The break away was the result of Burns pouncing on a lose puck just past the Sharks blue line. Burns had blocked a shot attempt by the Canucks’ Alex Edler and was off to the races. Burns got on his horse and carried the puck into the Vancouver zone. With Torres flanked to Burns’ left, the Sharks defenseman turned forward fed Torres perfectly in stride. From there, Torres did the rest. With the win the Sharks take the first two games of their series against Vancouver on the road and return home to the Sharks Tank for Game 3 Sunday Night. For the Canucks, a lot of questions need to be answered as they dropped their fifth overall home playoff game.
What makes the victory even more improbable is how the Sharks got this game into the overtime period. With just over a minute to go in the third period and the Sharks trailing 2-1, team teal had to go for broke and pull Antti Niemi for an extra attacker. After the Canucks’ Jannik Hansen had just missed an empty net goal that would have put the game away for Vancouver, the Sharks got the puck back up ice for what would be one of their final pushes. Dan Boyle with the puck in the Vancouver zone after taking a cross ice pass from Joe Pavelski took a shot on goal from a sharp angle. Luongo made the save but was seemingly unable to find the loose puck. Torres was unable to jam the rubber biscuit past Luongo. However the puck floated just far enough out of the Canuck’s goalie’s reach where Patrick Marleau moved in from the right side of the goal and slammed in the game tying goal. Marleau’s heroics with 55 seconds remaining send the game into the extra period, something that did seem too likely just moments earlier.
Early Returns- Just as they did in Game One, the Sharks carried the lion’s share of the play in the opening period and again were the faster team when it came to attacking loose pucks on the ice. The Sharks would outshoot the Canucks 10-4 in the opening period and had two power play opportunities. The Sharks would get some good looks on the first power play opportunity. However as was the case in Game One, Luongo was again tough in the net early on. TJ Galiardi had a point blank scoring chance stuffed by Luongo on the Sharks first man advantage of the game, Marleau had a shot denied on team teal’s second power play later in the opening period. With under seven minutes remaining in the opening frame, Brad Stuart took a feed pass from Galliardi and drilled a 55 foot slap shot from the left point that bounced off Luongo. With the rubber biscuit bouncing in front of the Canucks goal, Joe Thornton dove for the puck and was able to get just enough of his stick on it to knock it into the net past Luongo giving team teal the lead.
Niemi Holds The Fort- The Sharks would continue to push the envelope in the first period however could not get any more hard rubber in the Canucks’ net. Vancouver would regroup and come out of the gates with a good head of steam in the second period. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, who did not see the puck very much in the opening period would find himself getting reintroduced to it in the middle frame. Niemi would stand tall in the net and would make 14 saves despite the goal crease seemingly being very slick. Alex Burrows, and twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin would challenge Niemi with hard shots on net. The Sharks had their opportunities too as team teal would have an early power play go for not. Thornton came close to making it a two goal game but had his shot on goal hit the left post. The Sharks also lost a goal when Pavelski thought he had given the Sharks a two goal lead midway though the second period. Pavelski drilled a wrister that beat Luongo to his right from a sharp angle. However the officials immediately waived off the goal ruling the Tommy Wingles had interfered with Luongo despite the fact he was knocked into the Vancouver netminder by the Canucks’ Mason Raymond. Luongo also made a few key saves on his own including a point blank try by Torres during the second period.
Torture Test- The third period started about as well for the Sharks as a Bernie Madoff hedge fund. Just 39 seconds into the period Andrew Desjarens was called for tripping putting the Canucks on a power play. Vancouver from there wasted almost no time at all as just 20 seconds into the power play Ryan Kessler drilled a 60 foot slap shot that a screened out Niemi never saw. Just 59 seconds into the final period and the Sharks found themselves in a tie game. Kessler was the beneficiary of a passing exhibition by the Sedin twins that kept the Sharks away from the puck before feeding the eventual goal scorer. About six minutes later Boyle made a very uncharacteristic error from behind the Sharks net, trying to get a pass to Pavelski that caught him at an odd angle before turning it over. Kessler was there to take the loose puck and drill it past Niemi to give the Canucks a one goal lead. As the period wore on it seemed the Canucks had just taken control of the game. However and thankfully for the Sharks Niemi was having none of that and slammed the door on the Canucks. Niemi’s big test under pressure included turning away a similar two on one breakaway by denying a hard wrist shot from Daniel Weise who had taken a feed pass from Daniel Sedin. This save by Niemi just as the other 28 turned out to be huge. It would give the Sharks the chance that they were able to take advantage of to force an overtime session and ultimately take the second game of the best of seven series.
Coach McLellan Post-Game Presser- Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan spoke to the press after the Sharks win. McLellan spoke of the power play needing to be better as well as the Sharks overall performance in Game Two.
“I thought we had some great opportunities in the first,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. “Lou made some great saves. Second period, they started to get going a little bit. We entered the third and take a penalty that we’d probably like to have back. They scored on the power play.
“We, in turn, get an opportunity right back on a bad penalty. The power play wasn’t as sharp as we’d like it to be. We kind of felt the momentum swing there a little bit, but we stuck with it. It’s been our team for the last two months, or a month and a half. We just keep going and see what happens at the end of the night.”**
Shark Bytes- The three stars of the game were 3) Raffi Torres; 2) Patrick Marleau, and 1) Ryan Kessler (not how I would have voted). The Sharks outshot the Canucks 33-31, which included 7-4 in the five minute and 31 second overtime period. Martin Havlat did not play in Game Two due to injury. Vancouver’s regular starting goalie Cory Schneider has been injured since before this series. The Canucks actually won three move faceoffs than did the Sharks (37-34) and outhit team teal (45-27). The Sharks also had a total of 22 blocked shots on the evening.
Next Sharks Game- Sunday Night 7pm at the Shark Tank. The Sharks have the Canucks against the wall holding a 2-0 lead and are returning home for Game 3. Puck drop is 7pm. The game will be carried by CSN California (Northern California); NBC Sports Net (USA); TSN (Canada) …
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