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Canucks try to solve power-play problems

by Dave Lozo / NHL.com
BOSTON -- There's a team in the Stanley Cup Final with a power play operating with about as much precision as a surgeon with a nervous condition in an earthquake.

For once during the postseason, however, it's not the Boston Bruins -- it's the high-powered Vancouver Canucks.

During their 8-1 loss to the Bruins in Game 3, the Canucks were 0-for-8 on the power play. They played 15:13 with more players on the ice than the Bruins -- more than 25 percent of the game -- yet lost by seven goals.

The Canucks finished the regular season with the League's No. 1 power play and entered this series with the best power play among the eight teams that made it past the first round. The Bruins entered the series with by far the worst power play in the postseason among the final eight. Yet it's the Canucks who are 1-for-16 with the man-advantage while the Bruins are 3-for-13 through the first three games.

Adding insult to injury in Game 3 was the fact the Canucks allowed two shorthanded goals, including a backbreaker to Brad Marchand midway through the second period that gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead. The Canucks have allowed five shorthanded goals in the playoffs -- the same number the other 15 teams have combined to allow.

When asked what was wrong with the Canucks on the power play Monday, defenseman Kevin Bieksa cut right to the heart of the matter.

"We didn't score," Bieksa said. "We weren't making good plays. We weren't executing was what it came down to. The ice was bad, but that's not excuse. We weren't making crisp plays. We weren't controlling the puck. Our breakouts were a bit of an issue. But we've had bad games before and bounced back."

Daniel Sedin felt the power play improved as the game progressed.

"We made some adjustments halfway through the game and it was better, but it was over then," Sedin said. "We need to be better from the start. They scored on the power play tonight and scored shorthanded too. That can't happen."

The bigger problem for the Canucks than their inability to score on the power play was their propensity for allowing the Bruins to score while down a man.

Not only did Marchand score while the Bruins were a man down, but Daniel Paille scored a shorthanded goal of his own early in the third period to make it 5-0. The Canucks mustered 12 shots on their power plays, but the Bruins had seven shots while shorthanded.

To coach Alain Vigneault and his players, that was the biggest problem. A power play that's been a catalyst for them all season turned out to give the Bruins the jump they needed to climb back into the series.

"What gave them momentum tonight was our power play, or lack of it," Vigneault said. "That's been one of our biggest weapons all year long. It's kept the opposition real honest against us. Tonight, we weren't good enough.  I'm confident that this group will be good enough next game."

"They scored two power-play goals and two more on our power plays," Henrik Sedin said. "That can't happen. In a game when you let in two goals on your power play, you're not going to win."

If the Canucks are looking for evidence they can turn their power play around, they can look back to the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks. They failed to convert on their first three chances of the series, but scored nine power-play goals on their final 20 chances against the Sharks.

Sure, 0-for-3 isn't anywhere near the same as 1-for-16, but that's what Henrik Sedin mentioned as a reason to believe they can right the ship in time for Wednesday's Game 4.

"We got to change a few things," Henrik Sedin said. "First of all, I think we're too stationary. They stay in their box and keep us to the outside. We're not getting enough shots through. We'll take a look at it tomorrow. We didn’t start out well against San Jose, but we made some adjustments. That's what we need to do."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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