While Roberto Luongo played very well through the first two games of the series and wasn’t to blame for either loss, you had to know he wasn’t happy about giving up three goals in each game and particularly one in the final minute in game two to send it to overtime. You had to know that he would go into game three hungry to improve upon his performance.
He absolutely succeeded, shutting out the Sharks, looking as confident and collected as ever. He finished with 10 saves and…wait. 10 saves? That can’t be right. Surely the Sharks weren’t held to just 10 shots in a playoff game. And what’s this about the Sharks being up 3-0 in the series? Something’s not right here.
Oh. Luongo didn’t start. I swear, I was paying attention when I watched this game.
Canucks 2 – 5 Sharks
Despite Luongo’s fine performance so far this series, Cory Schneider got the start in game three. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, considering he outperformed Luongo during the regular season, is the de facto number one goaltender, and was fantastic coming into a similar situation last year. As soon as he was healthy, he was going to be in net. Through two periods, he was just fine, making 21 saves on 23 shots, with one goal against coming on a 5-on-3 powerplay and the other on a deflection in front. Then came the third period and everything fell apart.
Any chance of the Canucks coming back in this game was killed within the first two minutes of the third period, as in a space of 9 seconds, Schneider allowed two weak goals, with the first being particularly painful. Logan Couture came down the left wing and let an innocent-looking wristshot go from the boards that beat Schneider cleanly over his left pad. A moment later, Patrick Marleau took advantage of a defensive breakdown and beat Schneider five-hole while falling. It was a save that Schneider needed to make and the type of save that he made in his sleep all season.
Just a few minutes later, Henrik Sedin took a hi-sticking penalty and Logan Couture officially put the game out of reach with a powerplay goal from the left faceoff circle. Schneider got the hook and it’s up in the air whether he’ll get a chance to redeem himself in game four on Tuesday night. Those expecting Schneider to swoop in and save the day in this series have been left sadly disappointed.
Alain Vigneault finally took Andrew Ebbett out of the lineup after he played a game-low 3:26 in game two. In his place, came Tom Sestito. Nope, not Jordan Schroeder. Tom Sestito. Dammit, AV. This is why you can’t have nice things.
A group of alligators is known as a congregation. A group of frogs is an army. You can see a tower of giraffes, a bloat of hippopotamuses, and a crash of rhinoceroses if you go to Africa. A hiphopopotamus and a rhymenoceros found together are a flight.
For the first time in this series, we saw a hint of wizardry from the Sedins, as they cast False Life to grant the Canucks some temporary hit points in the second period. Daniel sprung Henrik with a cross-ice pass, then Henrik cut back neatly on Marc-Edouard Vlasic before finding Alex Burrows streaking into the zone for the one-timer. The accuracy and power behind Burrows’ shot was impressive considering the force of the pass and that it was on his off-wing. The temporary hit points quickly wore off, unfortunately, which should teach the Canucks a lesson: always have a cleric in your party.
One of the most frustrating aspects of this game is that it was Frank Corrado’s sixth with the Canucks, burning a year of his entry-level contract. Corrado has certainly played well enough to be in the lineup, but for his sixth game to be a blowout is painful. To make matters worse, he only had 13 minutes of ice time.
Derek Roy hasn’t been particularly noticeable in the playoffs, likely giving his agent fits as he thinks about how to spin his performance to potential suitors in free agency, but he salvaged a little dignity for the Canucks late in the third. At 4-on-4, Roy harangued Justin Braun on the forecheck, knocking the stick out of the defenceman’s hands and stealing the puck. Dan Hamhuis jumped up aggressively, took Roy’s pass, then faked a slapshot to force Niemi down into the butterfly before wristing the puck off the crossbar and in. It was far too little and way too late, unfortunately.
Who knows what line combinations and defence pairings we’ll see next game? After dominating the majority of game two, Ryan Kesler had minimal impact while playing with Higgins and Hansen. Zack Kassian lined up with the Sedins in the third period and looked promising. Something needs to change on the third line, as Roy has been ineffective. Bieksa hasn’t looked right all series, with speculation that he’s playing through an injury, and Edler has been hit or miss, but mostly miss. It’s time for AV to retire his coin and break out the 20-sided die, as he has some far more complicated decisions to make.
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