Vancouver went into the third period trailing by one goal and when the third period was over they were up by one goal and took the first game of the Western Conference Finals 3-2. Vancouver scored the only two goals of the third period 79 seconds apart. Kevin Bieksa and Henrik Sedin scored the two goals that gave Vancouver a come from behind win.
The first period was as expected fast paced and hard hitting. Vancouver and San Jose both had good chances to score, but the goalies kept the game scoreless. Vancouver had two power plays chances in the first period, but had very little pressure and never was a threat to score. It looked like the first period was going to end scoreless until Roberto Luongo decided he was going to handle the puck. Luongo tried to pass to one of his teammates along the boards until Joe Thornton intercepted the pass and with Luongo scrambling to get back in the net Thornton’s shot went through his legs and with that San Jose shocked the Rogers Arena crowd and went into the first intermission leading 1-0.
Vancouver who was shocked by the late San Jose goal in the first period struck early in the second period. Jannik Hansen passed the puck from behind the net to a wide open Maxim Lapierre and he slid the puck past Niemi and the score was tied 1-1. Vancouver had another power play opportunity but for the third time was never a threat to score which could come back to haunt them if they plan on winning this series. San Jose got their first power play chance of the game in the second period and wasted very little time scoring on Luongo. Dan Boyle’s shot from the point was deflected by Patrick Marleau and just like that San Jose once again had the lead 2-1. Joe Pavelski had a chance to give San Jose a two goal lead when he had a wide open net, but his shot hit a Vancouver defensemen and rolled wide of the net.
Vancouver dominated the third period outshooting San Jose 13-7, Vancouver was pushing the pace and carrying the play and it looked like the seven game series with Detroit was catching up with San Jose. Vancouver tied the score at two when Alex Burrows passed the puck to defensemen Kevin Bieksa and his wrist shot from the right circle beat Niemi on his blocker side. Vancouver wasn’t done scoring as they finally scored on the power play just 79 seconds later, there fourth power play of the game. Christian Ehrhoff passed the puck to Henrik Sedin in front of the net and he deked Niemi and Vancouver had its first lead of the game 3-2. San Jose could not beat Luongo and get the equalizer and Vancouver won for the fifth time on home ice in the playoffs 3-2. Game 2 will be on Wednesday in Vancouver . San Jose is bound to give a better effort as they will get a chance to recover from their emotional series with Detroit.
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Written by Kevin Kelly