Despite the criticism, maybe the Sedin twins were right all along. Keep your emotions in check. Work hard. Make them pay on the scoreboard.
Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was a testament to what the twins have preached these playoffs, as they combined for five points in a 7-3 romp over San Jose in a game that saw the Sharks lose their cool once they started losing the game.
“We’ve talked about playing whistle-to-whistle. We’ve talked about staying disciplined and that’s what we’ve done throughout the playoffs and that’s what we did tonight,” said Canucks head Coach Alain Vigneault.
San Jose’s Ben Eager was at the core of the Sharks meltdown, taking a number of costly penalties – including a dangerous hit-from-behind on Daniel Sedin with under a minute left in the second period and his team down 3-2.
“When their fourth-line player took a run at the NHL leading scorer – possibly the MVP of the league – we stayed focused, we stayed disciplined, and we went out and played,” said Vigneault.
Vancouver went on to score four third-period goals – two of them on the on the power play – as the Sharks grew more and more disturbed with their inability to keep up with the Canucks.
“Ben Eager’s hit started a bit of a frustration level on our team and we didn’t handle it very well,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. “They had more battle in their game than we did, and at this time of the year when you have more battle and more of a tenacity to your game you’re going to win.”
Vancouver outshot San Jose 38-31 and had key offensive contributions from a number of players not named Sedin. Chris Higgins had a goal and two assists while Raffi Torres stood out with a goal and some inspired physical play.
Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa also played a pivotal role on the night, scoring the go-ahead goal in the second and then getting the upper hand in a fight with Patrick Marleau.
“For a guy who has been criticized in the media… I thought (Marleau) did a good job battling and sticking up for himself,” said Bieksa.
Bieksa wasn’t the only Canuck defenseman to score, as Aaron Rome netted his first-ever playoff goal late in the third.
“When there’s the opportunity to make it an odd-man rush and you see space, you go,” said Bieksa. “All six of us (defenseman) have the green light to go and do that.”
Vancouver now holds a 2-0 series advantage and looks to be firing on all cylinders. San Jose will now need to win four of five to take the series, a daunting task considering they have never won a playoff series after being down two games to none.
Game 3 will take place Friday night in San Jose, where the Sharks will again try to match the tempo of the Canucks and keep their own emotions in check.