Who says they’re not playoff performers?
Unrestricted free agents Daniel and Henrik Sedin, commonly criticized for their disappearing acts in the playoffs, led Vancouver to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night at General Motors Place. Daniel scored the game’s first goal midway through the first period, after redirecting Pavol Demitra’s slap pass five-hole on Blues goaltender Chris Mason. Both Sedins assisted on Sami Salo’s early second period power-play marker, which proved to be the game winner. In a highly penalized affair, Vancouver’s penalty killing came up large their best players proved to be just that. Roberto Luongo stopped 25 of 26 shots leading his Canucks to victory in their playoff opener.
Although Luongo was called upon to make several key saves throughout the night, the Blues failed to generate enough traffic in front of the Canucks captain. Most of their scoring chances, which were limited in number, came from the perimeter and Luongo was able to see the puck clearly and therefore control his rebounds for the most part. The Blues lone goal, however, came off a rebound the Canucks goaltender couldn’t control. Brad Boyes found the gaping cage on a power-play late in the second after Luongo stopped Alex Steen’s original shot from the point.
A defining moment in the game, however, came when Brad Boyes and his Blues were unable to capitalize on their 1:42 two-men advantage in the first period. Soon after Daniel Sedin’s first period marker, Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo – two of Vancouver’s top penalty killers – took consecutive penalties but the Blues were unable to take advantage. Ryan Kesler made three blocks on Brad Boyes and Roberto Luongo made a cross-crease left pad save on Andy McDonald, which proved to be the Blues only shot on their extended power-play.
Both teams will look to cut down on their undisciplined penalties in game two of this Western Conference Quarterfinals series Friday in Vancouver and go back to their respective styles of up-tempo play that enabled them to be amongst the top teams in the NHL since the All-Star break.