The Vancouver Canucks started their crash-and-bang line of Johnson, Hordichuk, and Rypien against the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 of their first-round series, and the action only escalated from there. The proceeding few minutes saw bodies flying all over, board impacts, and glass rattling, as both teams went at each other like sumo wrestlers.
By the eight-minute mark, there had been 18 collective hits delivered, with the advantage going to the Blues. At the end of the first period, the Hit Parade read 18 to 15, with the Blues in the lead again.
That’s the total that you might see in a complete game, not a period.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo was tested within the first minute, as Keith Tkachuk fed a streaking Brad Winchester, who powered to the front of the net. The close-in shot was stopped, though, as was the following point shot by Mike Weaver.
The flow was back and forth, and soon it was the Canucks' turn to go at Blues goalie Chris Mason. First Kyle Wellwood put on a "magic" display, then Mason made a pad save off Daniel Sedin off the cycle, and finally Mats Sundin came out from behind the net.
What hockey, what energy, what a game! And it was still the first period.
Louie made a blocker save off a deflected shot that still has one grabbing for superlatives. This guy is lava-hot. Then the Blues' Andy McDonald was stopped again on a PP chance. That must be four great opportunities in the last four periods for him.
The Luongo nightmare must persist in McDonald’s mind, as Vancouver's netminder did not relent in his dominance.
The second period opened where the first left off; the checks just intensified.
The 'Nucks O’Brien took the first two penalties, but once again Vancouver's PK and Luongo were shutting the Blues out.
Shot blocking from Mitchell and Kesler and Louie’s saves off of St. Louis' David Backes (twice) made it seem that there would be no reward for the Blues' efforts.
I thought Backes was the Blues' best player, as he had five SOG and at least three scoring opportunities, though he couldn’t beat Luongo. McDonald has been their best player over the first two games, however.
The Canucks' first goal came off a beautiful two-way setup. Ryan Kesler from inside the blue-line faked a slap shot and then passed to Pavol Demitra, who shot at the net.
Mats Sundin, who was skating hard to that area, tipped it down between the pads of Chris Mason to record his first goal in 14 games. Just what we have been waiting for.
GM Place erupted with a roar that knocked the decibel meter deep into the red.
Later, Andy McDonald did beat Luongo with a shot only to watch it ring off the goal post.
At the other end, Mason was lights-out as well and kept the Blues in the game, though the 'Nucks out-shot the Blues 13-9. Particularly noticeable for Chris were the stops off Kesler and Bernier.
The third period face-off saw the Sedin brothers break directly to the Blues' net on a give-and-go; the puck went from Daniel to Henrik, and only a superior save from Mason kept it at 1-0.
On the last Blues PP, Luongo literally robbed McDonald again, this time with a blocker save that was labeled. Both teams' PK pitched a shutout (0-4).
The Canucks got their second goal to seal the deal off the Sedin line cycle. It went Burrows to Sedin, whose shot was stopped; then rebound to Burrows, who took it behind the net and on the wrap-around and stuffed it in the short side right by Mason.
The third goal was an empty-netter by Daniel Sedin.
Luongo is hot (last five games: two GA, three SO).
You know that old adage, “Timing is everything”?
Well, looks like the time is now.
The series shifts to St. Louis for the next two games, and we all know the Blues are tough there.
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