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Sedin twins lead Canucks to Game 1 win

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com
VANCOUVER -- Henrik Sedin was so on his game in the third period Sunday that he even thought enough to suggest to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault that he and Daniel should attempt the old switcheroo.

Vigneault said that during Vancouver's timeout after an icing with 56 seconds left in the one-goal game -- that Henrik said he should switch jerseys with his twin so he could go out and take the ensuing important defensive zone faceoff.

"You have to be quick to think about things like that," Vigneault said smiling after the Canucks' 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. "(The Sedins) are just smart players. They come to play."

Henrik came to play Sunday. It was just in time.

The Canucks' captain was facing heavy criticism coming into the Western Conference Finals for his lack of production through the first two rounds. It was also assumed by many that he was playing with some type of undisclosed injury that led to his below-standard production against Chicago and Nashville (9 points and a minus-8 rating through 13 games).

That's all history now because when it mattered most for the Canucks in Game 1 Sunday, Henrik showed up in a massive way. He helped set up Kevin Bieksa's game-tying goal with 12:58 remaining and 79 seconds later scored what turned into the game-winner on the power play by dashing to the slot, taking a pretty pass from Christian Ehrhoff and using his backhand to beat Antti Niemi.

It was Henrik's second goal of the playoffs and his first that didn't go into an empty net. He now has 11 points in 14 playoff games, but more importantly his contributions Sunday brought the Canucks within three games of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

"We're here to score goals and produce, and that's tough to do in the playoffs," Henrik said. "I think a lot of games we've played well and had our chances, but pucks haven't gone our way. Tonight we started out being minus-1 after the first two, but we got lucky."

It didn't seem that luck had anything to do with it. Henrik worked for his points, and Ryan Kesler, who was the Canucks' hero in the Nashville series, said he felt particularly happy for the captain because he was able to take a little bit of that criticism off his shoulders.

"He's been working hard and doing all the right things, and for him to finally get one, it's good," Kesler said.

It wasn't just Henrik that took over for the Canucks. Daniel did his part as well, just in a different way.

The Hart Trophy finalist went down to block Dan Boyle's blast from the point with 6:28 to play and he did win that key faceoff against Joe Pavelski with 56 seconds left.

Vigneault had to call a timeout after the Canucks' iced them puck so he could rest his guys and go over how they would attack the faceoff in their defensive zone. It was a 5-on-4 situation with Niemi off for the extra skater and Maxim Lapierre and Dan Boyle in the penalty box, yet the Canucks were caught without a center because Daniel was out there with Alex Burrows and a pair of defensemen.

After Vigneault shot down Henrik's request to change jerseys with his twin, Daniel went out and won the draw from Pavelski.

"They came up big for us at a real key time," Vigneault said. "Obviously they've been trying real hard and it was real good for our whole group tonight to see them come through in the clutch."

Daniel said Game 1 was the best his line, including Henrik and Burrows, have played this postseason.

"During the playoffs it's going to be up and down, you're going to have games when you're not as crisp as you're going to be," Daniel said. "But, today, I thought we stuck with it and I thought we played our best game of the playoffs. I thought we had the puck more in their offensive zone and created a lot more from those shifts. It was a good confidence boost for us."

"He's been working hard and doing all the right things, and for him to finally get one, it's good."
-- Ryan Kesler

Now the test is carrying it forward, but the matchup against the Sharks might make that a bit easier for Henrik and Daniel. San Jose wants to push the pace and its forwards want to get up the ice, and that could create chances for the Sedins either in odd-man situations or simply just because they would have more room to work with once they get the puck.

That's precisely what happened in Game 1.

"Well, they're Henrik and Daniel. One was the most valuable player in the League last year, one is going to be the most valuable player in the League this year," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Do we worry about them? Absolutely.

"I don't know what happened in the Nashville series as far as their chances and opportunities go," he added. "We watched a little bit on video, but I know we have a ton of respect for both of them. They showed it tonight."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
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