Monday, April 20, 2009

Special Teams Shuts Down Blues In Game 3

If there was one edge the Blues may have had on the Canucks going into their first round playoff series, it would have been possessing a stronger power play and penalty kill. The exact opposite occured Sunday night in St. Louis as Vancouver scored all of their goals with the man advantage and shut out the home team on numerous power play chances en route to a 3-2 win in Game 3 at the Scottrade Center.

The Blues were full value to open the scoring for the first time in the series. Andy McDonald cycled the puck behind the net of Roberto Luongo for Brad Boyes. He wasted no time dishing a pass in front for David Backes who burried a shot past the Canucks captain. It was the first playoff goal for Backes and it came at 3:11.

The Canucks got into serious penalty trouble for the remainder of the period and were on their heels. With Daniel Sedin in the penalty box at the midway point of the frame, Willie Mitchell soon joined him after taking a roughing minor and a four-minute high-sticking infraction. However, the Canucks penalty killers came up big and didn't allow the Blues much in the way of good quality scoring chances.

The Blues held the lead into the first intermission and out-hit the visitors 16-5. However they may have used up too much energy as the Canucks were able to turn the tides in the 2nd period when going to work on the man advantage. Kyle Wellwood had a nifty back handed pass out of the left corner to the point for Alexander Edler. He fed the puck across the line for Mattias Ohlund, who took a slap shot that found its way through the pads of Chris Mason. Ohlund's first of the playoffs came at 7:57.

A few shifts later, the Canucks found themselves on a 5-on-3 power play and were able jump into the lead. Sami Salo's point shot wound up beind knocked down in front where Daniel Sedin was able to poke it underneath Mason. Kevin Bieksa chipped in the other helper on Daniel's 2nd of the series at 10:18.

The Blues got the equalizeer they were hoping for heading into the intermission break. McDonald was left alone at the top of the crease and had little trouble beating Luongo after taking a pass out of the corner from David Perron. Backes collected his second point of the game on McDonald's 1st of the post-season at 16:13.

During the regular season, the Canucks went 10-6-5 when tied after fourty minutes whereas the Blues record stood at 9-7-4. On this night, it would be Vancouver getting the victory under these circumstances. Starting the final frame on the power play, Salo had a point shot sail wide of the net. Henrik Sedin gobbled up the loose puck off the end boards and fed it out in front for Steve Bernier. He was able to jab it underneath the netminder and give the Canucks the eventual game-winner. Bernier, who hadn't scored in his previous 17 games, tallied his first ever post-season goal at 1:41.

The Blues had a golden opportunity to tie the game up later in the period with another 5-on-3 power play. However, Luongo stood tall and kept the door shut to help preserve the pivotal Game 3 victory.

Final shots on net in Game 3 were even at 26 apiece. The Canucks finished the night going 3-for-5 on the power play and a perfect 6-for-6 short-handed.

Mats Sundin didn't take part in Game 3 as he sat out with a lower body injury suffered in Game 2. Jannik Hansen came in and took his spot working on a line with Ryan Kesler and Pavol Demitra.

The Sedin twins have combined for nine points in their first three games. The Canucks defence has also played a strong role in Vancouver's success so far in this series, contributing two goals and six assists.

The two teams practice Monday at Scottrade Center in preparation for Game 4 on Tuesday night. Face off will be 5:00pm PST.

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