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Dominant third periods have lifted Canucks

Sunday, 06.05.2011 / 1:34 AM / 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Canucks v Bruins

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Dominant third periods have lifted Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks have been a dominant third-period team all season, and Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final was no different.
VANCOUVER -- Canucks coach Alain Vigneault didn't like the way his team played for the first 15 minutes of the second period Saturday. He hated their work ethic and thought the intensity that's necessary to win a game in the Stanley Cup Final was lacking.
 
"We didn't have our work boots on," Vigneault said.
 
So, as is his right, the angry coach spoke to his team in a way that probably wouldn't have been suitable for a national television audience.
 
The message was received.
 
For the second straight game in this Final, Vancouver was the better team in the third period and it led to a victory.

Daniel Sedin scored the game-tying goal with 10:23 remaining in regulation and the Canucks carried their momentum into overtime, where Alex Burrows needed only 11 seconds to bury a wraparound that gave the home team a 3-2 victory and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series..
 
The third has been the Canucks' bread-and-butter period all season -- and nothing has changed against Boston. They've now outscored the Bruins 2-0 and outshot them 25-15 in the third period.
 
"We came in after the second and we knew we needed to play better," center Ryan Kesler said. "Our battle level wasn't high enough, and we needed to pick it up a couple of notches -- and we did. I think it speaks of the character in this room and really how bad we want this. We knew we were in a bad situation going into the third, but we believed we could do it."
 
Vancouver's speed and forecheck seems to be wearing on the Bruins as the game gets deeper.

In Game 1, the Canucks were able to take over at the start of the third period. The Canucks believe their dominance started with five minutes left in the second of Game 2, but Kesler said they didn't start really talking about it on the bench until halfway through the third.
 
"Right around the time Daniel scored," Kesler said. "We were starting to generate a lot and play a lot in their zone, and that's when the momentum started to shift."
 
During a three-minute stretch midway through the third, Vancouver had five straight shots on goal and connected on one of them with Burrows finding Daniel Sedin for a goal that raised the decibel level inside Rogers Arena to 114, equivalent to a loud rock concert.
 
Vancouver continued to pressure from there and it started to generate odd-man rush opportunities. The ice that previously wasn't available to the Sedin twins and Burrows started to become open. They got chances they weren't getting in the first two periods.
 
The Canucks essentially were wearing the Bruins down.
 
"They had a lot of momentum in the second period from their goals and they came hard after that," captain Henrik Sedin said. "But, I thought we took over with five minutes left in the second and you could see them getting maybe a little bit tired. That's when we come harder.
 
"This has been the case throughout the playoffs -- we've taken over games in the third. We play an up-tempo style. We get pucks in. We hit them hard. We have a good forecheck and it's tough to play against us."
 

"Our battle level wasn't high enough, and we needed to pick it up a couple of notches -- and we did. I think it speaks of the character in this room and really how bad we want this. We knew we were in a bad situation going into the third, but we believed we could do it."
-- Ryan Kesler

Henrik also hinted that the constant pressure off that forecheck probably had the biggest impact on Boston's 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara, who lazily turned the puck over in the corner leading to Daniel Sedin's game-tying goal and was beaten badly by Burrows on the overtime winner.
 
"It's not easy to play in the playoffs, especially if you're playing almost 30 hard minutes a night," Henrik said. "We like to think (we wore him out)."
 
Boston coach Claude Julien absolved Chara of the blame, saying instead it was a team loss. He blamed the Bruins' poor decision making and puck management for allowing the Canucks -- specifically the Sedins and Burrows -- to grab the momentum after the Bruins took a 2-1 lead.
 
Julien said the Bruins had far too many turnovers in the neutral zone in the third period.
 
"We need to play a little bit more like we did in the second period," he added. "We're capable of doing that."
 
The Canucks know that, which is why they weren't getting all nutty about moving within two wins of the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship. But, the Canucks also know that no matter how the first two periods play out, as long as the game is close in the third they've got a shot.
 
If it takes two more dramatic one-goal wins to raise the Stanley Cup -- well, let's just say nobody wearing blue and green would object.
 
"It shows this team's mentality," Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo said. "We've done this all year long. We've had the mentality of never giving up whether we're down a goal, two goals or three goals. We've shown the strength to come back."
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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