On the 28th of March, I attended a game at the HP Pavillion in which the San Jose Sharks hosted the Vancouver Canucks, two division leading teams. As expected, the game turned out to be a very intriguing one, a game that was exciting from start to finish.
For the first five minutes of the game, the Sharks seemed to be in control of the game, with the majority of the puck possession and chances. However, the Canucks came through with the first goal of the game, a garbage one at that. At 9:38, Alexandre Burrows put one through the pads of 5-hole prone goalie, Evgeni Nabokov. The goal was assisted by Henrik Sedin, making for his 100th point of the season, only the 3rd Canuck to ever reach that feat.
The scoring for the first period ended with that goal midway through. With the Sharks trailing 1-0 at the start of the 2nd period, they took control of the game with 3 2nd Period goals. The first of these goals was a powerplay goal by Dany Heatley. After a great save by Nabokov, Dan Boyle grabbed the rebound and sent it up ice to Patrick Marleau who laid it off to Heatley; Heatley faked a slap shot at the blue line, freezing Luongo, took the puck a bit more to the outside for a better angle and snapped one by Luongo.
Later on in the period, the Canucks were setting up in the offensive zone when Kevin Bieksa had the puck cleanly taken by Patrick Marleau. Marleau, one of the fastest skaters in the league easily outskated the defensmen, dangled Luongo, and went to the backhand to put his 42nd goal of the season away, unassisted.
Shortly after the Patrick Marleau break away goal, Joe Pavelski and Manny Malhotra got on a 2 on 1. Pavelski took the shot for himself and Luongo deflected the puck away with his blocker, only to see Pavelski finish up the play with a goal swatted out of mid-air.
With the score at 3-1, and the Canucks fading away, a very unfortunate turn of events for the Sharks occurred: Joe Thornton, skating hard for a puck in the corner was tripped up by Alexander Edler. Thornton flew into the boards and collapsed to the ice, unable to get up without assistance. Edler did not intend to push Thornton into the boards, but the hit was eerily similar to the Nichol hit a few weeks back. Thornton's injury is still disclosed so it is not known how long he will be out for. He did not return to the game and it appears as though he may miss his first game as a San Jose Shark ever, today vs Colorado.
To open up the scoring in the 3rd period, Daniel Sedin scored a powerplay goal at 7:55, assisted by Alexandre Burrows and Henrik Sedin. Burrows fired a shot on net and Nabokov gave up an easy rebound to Daniel Sedin who quickly tapped it away.
With the clock winding down, Ryane Clowe scored an open net goal at 19:49. The third period was dominated by the Canucks as the Sharks only put up 6 shots on goal to the Canucks 12.
For the San Jose Sharks, Evgeni Nabokov became only the 2nd goalie in NHL history to record 3 straight 40 win seasons. Dany Heatley came within 1 goal of number 300 on his career and 40 on the season. And for head coach Todd McLellan, win number 100 as a head coach could come tomorrow.
For the Canucks, Roberto Luongo put up yet another poor performance. Henrik Sedin as mentioned before joined Pavel Bure and Markus Naslund as the only Canucks to ever score 100 points in a season.
But perhaps the biggest impact of this game came with the injury to Joe Thornton. Despite his lack of playoff success, if this injury is as serious as it appeared, the Sharks may find themselvs in an even deeper hole than usual heading into the postseason.