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Canucks wallop Sharks 7-3 in Game 2

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Canucks kept their cool. The Sharks lost theirs.

It's pretty easy to figure out who is heading to San Jose with all the momentum in the Western Conference Finals.

Kevin Bieksa scored off the rush for the second straight game and later completed the Gordie Howe hat trick with a fight and an assist. The Sedins again showed up in a big way with Daniel scoring twice on the power play and Henrik picking up three assists. Chris Higgins and Dan Hamhuis also had three-point nights and even defenseman Aaron Rome scored his first career playoff goal.

All that coupled with the unraveling of the Sharks contributed to Vancouver's 7-3 victory in Game 2 Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

The Sharks have lost eight straight games in the Western Conference Finals dating back to 2004. The Canucks hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to San Jose for Game 3 Friday at HP Pavilion.

San Jose is 4-3 at home this postseason. Vancouver has won three straight road games and is 4-2 overall away from Rogers Arena.

"They had more battle in their game than we did," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "This time of the year when you have more battle and more tenacity to your game, you're going to win."

The Canucks got offense from so many sources Wednesday that it took several glances at the event summary to put it all together. Twelve players had at least one point, including three with two points and three more with three.

Higgins' power-play goal 7:56 into the third period turned out to be the game-winner, but Bieksa's goal off the rush with 7:55 left in the second broke a 2-2 tie and might have been the backbreaker. Less than six minutes later, he won a fight against Patrick Marleau. He picked up an assist on Higgins' goal to complete his Gordie Howe trick and help give the Canucks a 4-2 lead.

"Burr (Alex Burrows) was the first guy obviously to chirp me about it," Bieksa said of how his goal, assist and fight was received by the boys in the dressing room. "Yeah, it's great, I guess. The main thing is we got the win, so that's why I'm happy."

The Sharks obviously were disappointed, and according to center Logan Couture, "embarrassed," by the loss and the way they responded in the third period.

Clearly perturbed that Bieksa chose to engage with Marleau, who hadn't fought since Dec. 20, 2007, the Sharks decided to go after some of the Canucks' best players -- and it caused their demise.

Ben Eager took a run at Hart Trophy finalist Daniel Sedin and was called for boarding with 28 seconds left in the second period. He was then called for tripping 6:57 into the third period, leading to Higgins' game-winning power-play goal. Daniel Sedin scored his second power-play goal of the game less than four minutes later after the Sharks were called for too many men on the ice.

In all, San Jose committed nine penalties totaling 42 minutes in the third period. The Canucks scored and didn't engage with the Sharks until nine seconds were left on the clock. Maxim Lapierre, Jannik Hansen and Aaron Rome all got 10-minute misconducts in the final scramble of bodies.

"Yup, without a doubt," McLellan said when asked if his team lost its composure in the third period. "I'm not going to sit here and try to protect them. We lost composure, we were frustrated. As I said earlier, when you're second, you tend to be frustrated. We've got some work to do. We've got some guys that need to ask themselves some questions, answer them, and pull the skates a little tighter."

He wouldn't say who, but something clearly has gone wrong with the Sharks, who have now lost five of their last six games going back to Game 4 against Detroit. They're only here because they were able to cobble together a solid effort in Game 7 against the Red Wings to avoid a historic collapse in that series.

"It's embarrassing," Couture said. "That's the only word that comes to mind. We're in the conference finals, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and to put an effort out like that -- I feel bad for the fans and for the coaching staff that we gave an effort like that tonight."

To the Canucks, their effort was simply ho-hum, basically what is expected from them and what they've come to expect from themselves.

They had their top three lines and all six defensemen going from the start. The Sedins were spot-on most of the night and simply deadly with their passing and shooting on some plays. Roberto Luongo gave up another questionable goal, a game-tying tally for Marleau with 6:57 to play in the first period, but he still made 28 saves and was good enough to win.

"When we're able to have all 20 guys going, having everybody playing well as a five-man unit, attack all over the ice -- that's a big part of our game," Burrows said. "When we play the way we can we're a pretty tough team to beat."

They're pretty much impossible to beat when they score seven goals and refuse to lose their cool when the other team does.

"We've been that way all year long," Vigneault said. "We've talked about playing whistle to whistle, staying disciplined. That's what we've done throughout the playoff. We did it again tonight. When their fourth-line player took a run at the NHL leading scorer, possibly the MVP, we stayed focused, we stayed disciplined. You know, we went out and played."

If they keep it up, they'll be playing into June.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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