In a game where the Canucks outshot, outchanced and outhit their opposition, the final 3-2 result was a just one.
And while Sharks’ fans will be bitterly complaining about a phantom Dany Heatley elbowing penalty that gave the Canucks the chance for the game-winning tally, the biggest factor in the Sharks having the lead for most of the night was another gift, this one not provided by the officials, but Roberto Luongo.
For perhaps the first time all play-offs, the Canucks displayed the type of game that made them the best regular season team.
Often rolling four lines and having their defense engaged in the attack (even when protecting a late game lead), the Canucks combined a resilient performance from Roberto Luongo (after said first period gaffe) with a most opportunistic power play to give the weary Sharks just what they should have expected.
Game One showed the Canucks with little rust after a lengthy layoff and established clearly (like there was any doubt) that this will not be another round of paint drying, instead providing the faithful plenty of edge of your seat excitement.
Perhaps the biggest story in the game was the dominant performance from the Sedins, whom coach Alain Vigneault rode harder as the game progressed, putting aside any notions, for today anyway, that certain brother(s) may be playing hurt.
When Luongo’s first period tape-to-tape pass wound up on Joe Thornton’s stick and in the net, you could feel the life being sucked out of the building. But Lou was able to park that brain fart, as were his mates.
What pleased us most about this game was how the Canucks played after finally getting the lead mid-way through the third period. Against Chicago and Nashville, they were often guilty of attempting to baby their leads, collapsing into rope-a-dope fashion, with an often predictable result. Not this time. Whether consciously attempting to bury the more tired Sharks or now being more relaxed and confident in their approach, the result was what we’d all become accustomed to throughout the season.
This is the edge that the Canucks must maintain througout to eke out the final seven wins to complete the job. And while we expect the Sharks to put up more resistance next game, these repeated third period collapses (three in the last four games) can’t be good for their collective psyche.