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Energy line provided much more for Canucks

by Dan Rosen / Vancouver Canucks

It's one thing for the Canucks to get some energy shifts from their third line, but it's another when those energy shifts actually produce some tangible results.

When that happens like it did in Sunday's 3-2 victory, the opponent might as well pack it in and head for the dressing room because it'll likely be a long night on the ice.

Maxim Lapierre, Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen not only forechecked like bandits in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, but they created chances off their energetic play and scored a massive timely game-tying goal early in the second period to do their part in helping the Canucks take a 1-0 lead over San Jose in the best-of-seven series.

The trio combined for three points, five shots on goal and 10 hits. San Jose's third line was a combined minus-3 with four shots.

"It's energy, battle and compete," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said when describing his third line. "Those three guys go out there and every shift they just lay it on the line. Sometimes it's maybe not as structured as we would like it, but you have to let those guys play to their strengths and their strengths are energy and emotion. They did a real solid job for us."

Such as:

* Lapierre scored his first of the playoffs 1:49 into the second period. He was set up by Hansen and Torres, and even did a Bobby Orr leap over Antti Niemi after he put the puck in the net.

* Hansen would have scored late in the second period if not for a spectacular left pad save by Antti Niemi, but he still finished with three hits and a line-high four shots.

* Torres took an elbow to the kisser from Dany Heatley in the third period to get the Canucks on the power play. Henrik Sedin scored the game-winner 47 seconds later.

"You see the style we were playing, it's a matter of getting the puck deep, hitting and forcing their play," Hansen told NHL.com. "If we can chip in a goal it's obviously huge, but our main concern is to make their Ds look over their shoulders and force them to make plays they don't want to make. Again, you saw we were benefitting from it when we were able to change the momentum in the game."

It's fairly obvious what it means for stars like Henrik, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler when the third line is going the way it was Sunday.

"More dangerous," Torres told NHL.com. "If we can keep pounding their 'D', stay on their 'D' and finish our chances, I think hopefully they'll be more tired when Hank and Danny and Kes get out there."

"It gives us huge momentum in games where we can throw those guys on the ice and they're buzzing around," Henrik said. "For them to get a goal, playing the way they did, it's great to watch."

Added Kesler: "When they play in the offensive zone all night, that wears the 'D' down, and that makes them really, really hard to play against. Those guys were great all night. It's one of the best games I've seen that line play."

The key, Torres said, is carrying that energetic, result-oriented play into Game 2 Wednesday night.

"I think our problem in the past is that we have a good game and then take a game off or two," he said. "We have to keep the energy, keep the confidence. We could have had two or three (goals) with a couple of more bounces our way, but we're not going to be greedy. We'll take what we can get and it was a good start."

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