NHL 2011 Playoffs: Canucks Dominate Special Teams to Defeat Sharks in Game 4
Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals was a special teams battle that Vancouver dominated, both on the penalty kill and on the power play. The final score was Canucks 4, Sharks 2.
San Jose received the first five power plays, and with 10 full minutes of power-play time in the first half of the game, the Sharks didn't get on the score board.
Then the tides turned and Vancouver drew penalty after penalty, using multiple five-on-three opportunities to score three power goals in a mere 1:55 of elapsed time.
Henrik Sedin had a night worthy of a captain on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. He assisted on all four goals, and also forced a five-on-three opportunity by putting a tape-to-tape pass right onto Logan Couture's stick as San Jose was in the middle of a lazy change.
Oh, and Henrik now leads the NHL in points with 19.
Daniel was the lesser Sedin on the night, finishing with a measly three assists. Doesn't he realize that he is supposed to match Henrik point for point?
Sami Salo had a pretty good afternoon too, recording a pair of goals 16 seconds apart in the second period to blow the game open, as well as blocking five shots.
I'll mention Dany Heatley here, because you won't find him on the score sheet where he belongs. The sniper with a $7,500,000 cap hit has a measly eight shots and a single assist.
No, that wasn't his total for Game 4. That was Heatley's total contribution during the first four games of the Western Conference Finals, unless you want to include his lazy penalties, which the Canucks tend to score on.
I wonder if the Sharks are regretting that trade yet?
If Heatley never plays another game for Team Canada, he won't be missed, at least not by me. It might be a cliche, but ever since he signed that big contract, he appears to have lost all motivation.
It wasn't just the scorers getting it done for Vancouver, the grinders and depth guys did their part as well.
After being a healthy scratch for much of the playoffs, Keith Ballard proved that even the seventh defenseman on the President's Trophy team is still pretty damn good compared to the rest of the league.
Ballard came out of the press box to play 10:34, recording two hits and contributing to the perfect Canucks penalty kill.
Apparently, Ballard wasn't in the mood to be thankful, as he threw this devastating hip check on Jamie McGinn.
McGinn, as you might remember, was the man responsible for the injuries to Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome in Game 3 that led to Ballard's opportunity to play in Game 4. Still, Ballard showed no mercy on that hit.
What will be the result of Game 5?
Ballard wasn't the only one throwing big hits.
Raffi Torres leaned into a clean shoulder to shoulder hit that threw Joe Thornton to the ice in the third period. Thornton would leave the game with what is suspected to be a separated shoulder.
Thornton has stated he will play in Game 5, although his coach wasn't so certain in the post-game press conference. Thornton may play in Game 5, but he will hardly be 100 percent. And that is a definite blow to the Shark's hopes of extending the series.
Roberto Luongo was brilliant, stopping everything early when the Sharks had all the power play time, and ending up with a 0.943 save percentage.
Antti Niemi on the other hand was not spectacular, finishing off the matinee with a horrible 0.692 save percentage. Still, hard to blame him for the loss when his skaters can't convert on their own power plays, yet give up multiple five on three opportunities.
Game 5 is 6 p.m. PT at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Unless the Sharks find a way to discover some pride and a sense of urgency, this series could be over far sooner than anyone predicted a week ago.
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