Weather it was nerves, officiating, or just lacklustre play that was that cause for such a sub-par game one, it was anything but that Friday in game two at GM Place. From the start, this game had all the makings of a heavyweight fight, with both teams going to the body.
There were over 30 hits alone in the first period from both teams, as the Blues were desperate to get a split and the Canucks equally as desperate to keep home ice advantage. Any nerves that may have come from game one were quickly evaporated as both teams went for the jugular.
A big reason for the torrid pace and intense playoff action was great officiating by Chris Rooney and Brad Watson. They both did a great job of letting the players play, and giving the game the flow it lacked in game one. In total there were only seven penalties for each team, a big improvement from Wednesday's flurry of penalties.
The game got off to a blistering start. Just 24 seconds into the game, Brad Winchester took a great feed that Luongo was able to stop point blank. That unfortunately was a sign of things to come for the Blues, as Luongo was called upon all night to keep the young St. Louis team at bay.
Chris Mason himself had to be just as sharp for St. Louis. He was able to stymie the Canucks dominant power play, and proved to be equal to the task for much of the game as well.
The way these goaltenders were playing, it looked as though we would be in for a long night. Relief came for Vancouver with less than two minutes left in the second, when veteran Mats Sundin tipped a Pavol Demitra shot that just trickled by Mason. The score stood up until the intermission.
In the third period, Mason made perhaps his best save of the night, stoning Henrik Sedin point blank on a great feed from brother Daniel. A pivotal point in the game came almost half way through the third, when Roberto Luongo robbed Andy Macdonald point blank, and stopped a blast from TJ Oshie.
On the ensuing rush, Alex Burrows squeezed a wraparound past Mason who had trouble tracking it. That goal was plenty for Luongo who was lights out in this one with 30 saves in a 3-0 win. Henrik Sedin added an empty netter for the icing on the cake.
Game two more than lived up to expectations, as all night you could feel the bad blood and intensity brewing from both teams. Chris Mason was brilliant, stopping 27 shots in a losing effort. Andy Macdonald was outstanding as well. He was the only player to beat Luongo, unfortunately though he hit the iron three times.
For Luongo, it was his first career playoff shutout, and he has now stopped 141 of his last 143 shots. Sundin, playing in only his second playoff game since 2004, scored his first goal in 15 games, and now has eight career game winning goals in the postseason.
The Canucks have a 2-0 lead as the series now shifts to St. Louis for games three and four. A good sign for the Canucks is that statistically in the playoffs, 87% of the time the team with a 2-0 series lead has gone on to win the series.
The Canucks will try to take a stranglehold on the series this Sunday at 4 p.m.