-- Before the 2011 Stanley Cup Final began, one of the biggest advantages for either team was supposed to be Vancouver's potent power play.
Three games into this series, and it is the Canucks, not the Bruins, who are searching for answers with the man advantage. Boston's work on the penalty kill has been a huge positive to this point. The Bruins are 15-for-16 on the PK, and have more shorthanded goals (two) than the Canucks have tallies with the extra man.
"It is a potent weapon for them. You really just can't let your guard down against them," Boston defenseman Andrew Ference
said. "They have some really plays and some players that can execute them. It is important for everybody to really be on their toes, and I think we've done a good job with it."
Boston did not have standout numbers on the PK entering this series. Both Vancouver and Boston were in the middle of the pack of 16 teams that made the postseason through three rounds.
Given Boston's struggles on the power play against Montreal, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, it was expected that Vancouver would be the team that improved its numbers on the penalty kill. Instead, the Bruins have frustrated the Canucks, including erasing all eight opportunities Vancouver had in Game 3.
"Well, we're doing the right thing obviously," Boston coach Claude Julien
said. "I think we've done a pretty good job of getting in the shooting lanes. We've done a pretty good job of taking away the passing lanes. That's not giving away any secrets. It's what penalty kills have to do. Our guys have done a pretty good job of sacrificing themselves, blocking shots, you saw [Gregory] Campbell doing it -- and [with] Salo shooting the puck. It shows a lot of guts on his part against a guy that shoots the puck that hard. It's about sacrifice. More than anything else, our penalty kill has taken a lot of pride in these playoffs to be very, very good, and has been."
Boston even went on the offensive in Game 3 while down a man. Brad Marchand
had a great individual effort, skating past several Canucks en route to a shorthanded goal to give Boston a 3-0 lead in the second period.
After a lengthy post-whistle scrum in the third period that lead to four 10-minute misconducts and an extra two-minute penalty on Boston's Dennis Seidenberg
, Bruins forward Daniel Paille
started the third-period barrage by skating around Vancouver's Jeff Tambellini
and putting a shot off Roberto Luongo
that trickled across the goal line to make it a 5-0 game.
Vancouver had the best power play in the NHL during the regular season at 24.3 percent, and the Canucks were tops among the eight teams that reached the second round at more than 28 percent before the Final began.
Now it will be the Canucks turn to answer questions about their struggling power play during the off day before Game 4.
"That's a huge part of our team," Vancouver forward Mason Raymond
said. "All season it's been a big part of our success and tonight we weren't clicking at all there. We need to refocus. It needs to be better in Game 4."
Added Julien: "Our penalty kill to me has been excellent, even against Tampa. Except for Game 6 where we gave them three goals, our penalty kill has been really, really good for us. That's really helped us survive as far as the power play struggling. When you're power play struggles, your penalty kill has to do a really good job in order to at least even things out. They've done a great job at that."