Sharks storm into Vancouver, take Game 1
Logan Couture had a goal and an assist in the Sharks' 3-1 victory over the Canucks in Game 1.
VANCOUVER – Dan Boyle and Logan Couture each had a goal and an assist, as the Sharks took the opening game of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against Vancouver at Rogers Arena on Wednesday night, 3-1.
Boyle gave the Sharks a 2-1 third period lead, their first of the game. Joe Pavelski passed the puck to Tommy Wingels at the side of the net, and Wingels held off Derek Roy at the side of the net to Roberto Luongo’s right. He slid the puck to an open Boyle, who easily lifted in the tiebreaker at 9:17.
Patrick Marleau's goal earned the Sharks some insurance at 14:37, taking a brilliant backhanded feed from Couture behind the net and beating Luongo with a shot that trickled in off of Dan Hamhuis, who was trying to defend Marleau in the slot.
The Canucks opened the scoring in the second period, but the Sharks responded on the power play.
Vancouver broke the scoreless tie at 12:26. Kevin Bieksa’s shot led to a mad scramble in front of the Sharks’ net, and Raffi Torres inadvertently slipped the puck through Antti Niemi and Couture, who was behind his goalie. Mason Raymond appeared to make contact with Niemi just before the goal, which was credited to Bieksa.
Zack Kassian’s undisciplined roughing penalty on Couture put the Sharks on their third power play of the night. Boyle found Couture in the high slot and Couture’s laser beat Luongo high at 16:35 to tie it at 1-1 at the second intermission.
It didn’t take long to realize the game would be emotional, as Pavelski and Ryan Kesler exchanged some light pushing and shoving before the opening faceoff. Vancouver’s Dale Weise leveled Matt Irwin into the boards in the first period, while Torres drilled Canucks rookie Frank Corrado at the blue line later in the frame.
In the second, Jannik Hansen ran into TJ Galiardi with what looked to be a high hit, and Galiardi was slow to make his way back to the bench midway through the period.
Pavelski finished with two assists.
The Sharks finished 1-for-4 on the power play. In the first period, eight of their 15 shots came with a man advantage, including seven in a span of two minutes when Weise was called for high-sticking at 2:36.
Vancouver was 0-for-2.
Niemi made 29 saves in the win, while Luongo stopped 25.
Luongo got the start for the injured Cory Schneider, who did not dress for the game. Schneider missed the Canucks’ final two regular season games with an undisclosed injury.
It didn’t take long for Luongo to get into the game early. He robbed Marty Havlat on a brilliant pad save on an early Sharks power play on what was his best save of the night.
Since 2010, Niemi leads all NHL goaltenders with 47 playoff games 26 wins. Luongo is second with 40 games and 21 wins in the postseason.
Havlat, who missed the final game of the regular season with an undisclosed injury, left midway through the first period and did not return. Scott Gomez also did not play, presumably still feeling the effects of a hit from Dallas’ Erik Cole on April 23.
On defense, Scott Hannan got the call over rookie Matt Tennyson.
Kesler played for the first time against the Sharks, after missing all three games of the season series.
Game 2 is in Vancouver on Friday night at 7 p.m. The series shifts back to San Jose for games three and four at HP Pavilion on Sunday and Tuesday, both at 7 p.m.