The first period ended in a conveniently consistent way: by a bottom-six Vancouver Canucks forward taking an unnecessary penalty. This time around it was Raffi Torres getting whistled for a comically obvious charge, which will give the San Jose Sharks a full two minute power play to begin the second period.
San Jose 0, Vancouver 0 (end of first)
On the bright side, the Canucks played a more passionate game of hockey through the first 20 minutes. They’re gathering speed nicely through the neutral zone, winning a lot of puck battles and just seem to be honed-in on Game 4. Unfortunately, they couldn’t match their aggressiveness with attention to detail, taking four penalties including that final Torres charge.
As Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire pointed out, Alain Vigneault made a blunder by putting Tanner Glass out on the ice to start things off. Glass took the first of his two dumb penalties just 26 seconds into the game, putting a dangerous Sharks power play on the ice less than a minute into the game.
Roberto Luongo was strong in that first period, making 10 saves to help Vancouver maintain a tie through the first period, the type of result a road team cannot complain about in the playoffs. Antti Niemi survived what was probably the most dangerous moment of the first 20 minutes by stopping two shots that resulted from a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush during that first power play.
The Sharks must be disappointed that they squandered some nice opportunities on the power play while the Canucks once again find themselves dealing with some discipline issues. We’ll see how both teams respond to their own issues in the second period and beyond.
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In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: