In the first period, we discussed the notion that the Vancouver Canucks were playing with fire thanks to the four penalties they took. As it turned out, the San Jose Sharks were the team that got burned by their own lack of discipline.
During a truly stunning two minute span, the Canucks connected on three different 5-on-3 power play opportunities to take a 3-0 lead. Ryan Kesler started things off with a Steven Stamkos-like one-timer, then Sami Salo showed off his stupendous slapper with two more goals. The Canucks went into this game with questions about their special teams. Through the first two periods, they’ve answered those queries in the most resounding way imaginable.
Vancouver 3, San Jose 0
It’s unclear if the Canucks broke a record for 5-on-3 goals in a period (let alone two-minute span), but it remains one of the stranger developments in a rather odd playoff year. Henrik Sedin earned three assists on that power play, suddenly staking him to first place in the 2011 playoffs with 18 points. (Daniel Sedin was strong too, earning two assists himself.)
People shouldn’t blame Antti Niemi too much for allowing goals on some blisteringly hard shots. That being said, Roberto Luongo made some big saves during the Canucks’ torrent of penalties and Niemi didn’t. There are other variables (those Canucks goals came on 5-on-3 power plays, which naturally allow more room for dangerous shots), but many will unfairly boil it down to that.
Earlier on, it seemed like Keith Ballard’s highlight reel hip check (more on that later) would be the most memorable moment of the second period. That scoring spree rendered that moment more or less an afterthought, although many will wonder if things would have been different if he received a clipping penalty on the hit.
Even if the Sharks fall short in the rest of this game, we might learn a lot about San Jose in the third period. This team came back from a 4-0 deficit against the Los Angeles Kings, so we know that they have the firepower and moxie to come back. If nothing else, they need to play a strong final frame to regain their composure and self-respect.
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Thomas Greiss will be between the pipes for the New York Islanders when they host the Blackhawks tonight in Brooklyn.
Greiss was signed this offseason to back up Jaroslav Halak, who skated this morning but remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
“Jaro’s not 100 percent right now, so it was an easy decision,” coach Jack Capuano told Newsday. “Jaro’s progressing well and we’ll see how he is moving forward.”
Greiss will be backed up by J-F Berube, who was claimed off waivers from Los Angeles earlier in the week.
Corey Crawford will be in goal for Chicago.
These two teams meet again tomorrow at United Center.
— Michael Hutchinson goes for the Jets in New Jersey after Ondrej Pavelec got the win last night in Boston. Cory Schneider for the Devils.
— Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers. Sergei Bobrovsky for the Blue Jackets in their opener.
— Jonathan Bernier for the Leafs. Jimmy Howard for the Red Wings in their opener.
— Mike Smith for the Coyotes. Jonathan Quick likely for the Kings, who will need a better effort than the one they had Wednesday against San Jose.
Related: Mike Smith seeing benefit from sports psychologist
Winnipeg forward Alex Burmistrov isn’t in line for a disciplinary hearing for his elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed to PHT.
Burmistrov was tagged with an illegal check to the head minor late in the first period. Bergeron received a minor roughing penalty for retaliating on the Russian forward, but was able to finish the contest.
Afterward, B’s head coach Claude Julien expressed frustration with the hit.
“It will be interesting how that is being reviewed, and especially to an elite player in the league who’s had some [concussion] issues in the past,” Julien said, per WEEI. “I hope they look at it seriously. In my mind, I don’t see why there wouldn’t be further consequences [for] that.”
Bergeron said that, while it was “definitely a hit to the head,” Burmistrov did come up to him afterward and apologized.
According to sources of CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty, Burmistrov received a warning from the Department of Player Safety.