The Vancouver Canucks dropped Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal 3-1 to the San Jose Sharks Wednesday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver thanks to a pair of third period goals from the Sharks.
Going into the game the focus was on Roberto Luongo, who earned a surprise start due to an injury to Cory Schneider. Luongo did his part on the night recording 25 saves, including 15 in the first period, eight of those with the Canucks on the penalty kill.
Luongo could only do so much. Antti Niemi was equally impressive at the other end of the ice thwarting countless Vancouver scoring chances in a 29-save effort.
Kevin Bieksa put the Canucks up 1-0 12:26 into the second period but the lead was short-lived with the Sharks tying the game at 1-1 on the power play just over four minutes later.
In the third period the teams each had seven shots, but the Sharks made the most of theirs with Dan Boyle and Patrick Marleau beating Luongo.
The Canucks know this game was theirs for the taking and Henrik Sedin is already dialled in on what needs to improve heading into Game 2 Friday evening.
"We weren't that far off but everything has to be five times better — puck movement, execution, battle level and bearing down when we get the chances," said Henrik. "We didn't give up a whole lot of chances and they didn't do that either. When you get the chance, you got to bear down and they did a better job of that tonight."
AND ANOTHER THING...
Towels waving, U2 playing, Canucks on the ice. Playoff hockey is magestic.
Tweet of the Night - "There isn't a word to describe my emotions when the @VanCanucks get scored on in playoffs. I just stare at the tv with pure bitter hatred." - @MisterMcGrew. We all do. #blarg.
Home ice disadvantage - The Canucks have now lost five straight playoff games going back three seasons to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Kevin Bieksa, for one, has no time for that stat. "It's one straight in this playoffs," he said. "We have one more chance next game to get a split on home ice and that's what we're concentrating on."
Let the bodies hit the floor - A lot of focus was put on the brute Sharks coming into the series, but it was the Canucks who dictated the physical play out-hitting the Sharks 40-26. Frankie Corrado and Dan Hamhuis were the only Vancouver skaters who didn't land a hit, while Dale Weise led the troops with five.
The return of U2 - Project NU2 was successful in exposing the Canucks to a few new intro songs, but in the end it made sense to return to U2's Where The Streets Have No Name for the playoffs. No guarantees it sticks around all post-season, we're crazy like that, but the goosebump count when it played was through the roof.