Friday, April 16, 2010

Canucks Survive Scare to Win Game 1

The Vancouver Canucks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in overtime on Thursday night to survive the early trend of upsets in the 2010 NHL playoffs. The game featured a little bit of everything, from speed and great transition, to great hits, post-whistle shenanigans, and of course a miraculous save by Luongo in overtime.



Early in the game the Canucks seemed to dominate, out-shooting the young inexperienced Kings 17-6 in the first period. However, the Kings became more comfortable and confident as the game went on and scored the game's first goal early in the 2nd period on the powerplay. Mikael Samuelsson equalized just over two minutes later on the Canuck's powerplay.

Daniel Sedin then took a beautiful pass from Henrik and scored on the backhand at 8:31 of the second period to give the Canucks the lead. Jonathan Quick played brilliantly and made several huge saves to keep the Kings in it, but it looked as though the Canucks were about to pull away for good.

However, half way through the 2nd period there would be another momentum swing, unfortunately in the form of a boneheaded play by Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts. Alberts hammered King's forward Brad Richardson from behind; he appeared to leave his feet to elbow Richardson in the head. Alberts received a five minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct on the play. It was a physical game that had an edge to it, but the Alberts hit was completely uncalled for and gave the Kings new life. Fredrik Modin tied the game at two on the subsequent five minute powerplay.

The third period was completely dominated by Vancouver and it looked like the Kings were just trying to survive. The Canucks out-shot the Kings 13-2 but could not solve Jonathan Quick. Off to overtime.

The Kings came out with urgency and jump that seemed to surprise the Canucks. It appeared that the Kings had won it with a shot from Jack Johnson that hit Luongo's blocker and was rolling into the net. Luongo somehow spun around and saved the puck off the goal-line just in time. That save either sparked the Canucks or served as a needed wake up call as Mikael Samuelsson scored the eventual winner -- his second of the game.

For my money it did not get any better than Canucks' defenseman Alexander Edler last night. Edler was a physical beast all night with several highlight reel hits and great defensive plays. With the question marks surrounding Vancouver's defense the Canucks needed someone to step up and Edler was the guy.

This has the makings of a great series. The Kings have proven to themselves that they can play with Vancouver and they will only get more confident.

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