It didn’t stand as the game-winner with St. Louis’ Andy McDonald tying things up before Steve Bernier potted the clincher early in the third period, but Daniel’s goal was a perfect illustration of what playoff hockey is all about and why the Canucks now have a commanding 3-0 series lead.
With 19 seconds remaining in a Vancouver 5-on-3, Sami Salo
snapped a shot on goal from the left hash marks that was blocked by a defender in front.
A scramble ensued as the puck pinballed around the mouth of the crease before T.J. Oshie gingerly passed it back to his netminder Chris Mason.
Mason lunged for the black biscuit trying to get a whistle and end the mayhem, but before he could snag it Daniel had poked it past him.
Like a tiger waiting for the precise moment to pounce on its pray, Daniel knew exactly when to strike with an extra effort.
“The puck was right there and they tried to give it to the goalie and I was lucky to get a stick on it,” said Daniel, who has five points in three games.
The extra push Danny had on that goal was a carbon copy of the drive the Canucks displayed all game long, particularly on special teams.
After the Blues opened the scoring just 3:11 into the first period, Henrik Sedin
and Willie Mitchell took consecutive penalties, Mitchell’s a double minor for high-sticking, putting the Canucks down 5-on-3 for 1:26.
Think back to Game 1 of this series and it was Mitchell who played a major role in helping Vancouver kill a similar 5-on-3 Blues power play, yet even without him the Canucks got the job done holding St. Louis to only two shots on goal this time around.
“We weathered a huge storm there where we played almost five minutes straight shorthanded and killing off a 5-on-3,” said Ryan Johnson, a big time player in the penalty-killing department on this night playing almost six minutes shorthanded.
The roles were reversed when Vancouver was presented with a 5-on-3 that Daniel capitalized on in the second, but in the third another turn of the tides had the Canucks once again down a pair of men.
The long arm of the law reached out for Ryan Kesler
6:47 into the final frame and a minute later Mitchell was again hauled off for high-sticking.
At this point Vancouver was cradling a narrow 3-2 lead leaving its penalty killers with little room for error, which was fine with them.
Thanks to smart defensive decisions and the play of Roberto Luongo
, who remained lights out stopping 24 of 26 shots on the night, the Canucks once again avoided giving up a goal.
Vancouver has snuffed out four minutes and 11 seconds of St. Louis 5-on-3 power play time through three games.
“That was the momentum grabber that we needed and we know they’ve got a lot of weapons and we just tried to make them have to beat Lui with the hard shot and not giving them the easy tap in,” Johnson said.
“All our killers tonight did a phenomenal job, but we don’t want to put ourselves in that situation in Game 4.”
The Canucks kept the Blues off the scoreboard on the power play eliminating all six St. Louis man advantages, while each of their three goals were scored 5-on-4.
Vancouver’s stellar special teams have been an integral part of their game all series long and looking to sweep the Blues on Tuesday night, the Canucks will need to be razor sharp again.
“We’ve got to focus on the next game, we know that as soon as you get a win you’re back in it,” said Daniel Sedin
in regards to his squad staying grounded despite being in complete control of the series.
“We’ve got to get the win in the next game, every game has been close so I think they feel like they still have a chance, but we have to take that away from them.”
The Canucks were outworked in the opening period and they spent a lot of time in the box so there wasn't much offence to be had.
Throughout the second and third Vancouver was throwing everything it had on goal, especially on the power play and it paid off with three goals.
Good on Steve Bernier for standing his ground around the crease and finally getting rewarded for his rugged play with the game-winning goal.
Daniel and Henrik combined for two points, they now have nine (3-6-9) through three games.
Despite giving up two goals in a game for the first time this series, Roberto Luongo
was once again amazing with 24 saves.
He came up big on Vancouver's two 5-on-3 kills, as did unsung blueliners like Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa
and Mattias Ohlund.
Vancouver's defenders were also great on offence with a goal and four assists.
Vancouver took advantage of its five power plays by netting three goals; the Canucks moved the puck well, made the easy passes and hit Chris Mason with shots from all over the ice.
St. Louis did not seize the opportunity to turn this game around with thier man advantage going 0-for-6; the Blues are 1-for-17 in the series.