Andrew Ebbett celebrates his game winning tip-in. It was his third goal since Christmas.
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Over the past twelve months, even regular season meetings between the Canucks and the San Jose Sharks have been transformed into appointment viewing, and Wednesday night’s game was no exception. Though the refereeing was bad both ways, the pace, tension and energy of the game was palpable. The clashes between these two clubs continue to make for some excellent spectator sport, so I’ll look forward to their meeting early next week, and to their being united within the re-formed Western-most Conference next year.
The Canucks jumped out to an early lead thanks to a soft Daniel Sedin wraparound goal, and a persistent Kesler goal off of a juicy rebound on the power-play. The Sharks answered, however, with two beauties; one from Logan Couture on the breakaway and one from Joe Thornton on the power-play late in the second frame. In the third the Sharks and the Zebras teamed up to bombard the Canucks with a seemingly endless parade of shots and penalties – but the Canucks survived, killed off the multitude of man-advantages given to San Jose, and took the game to overtime. WIth roughly a minute left in the free frame, Kevin Bieksa sent a rug-burner towards the net that was tipped past Antii Niemi by journeyman, and surprise offensive catalyst Andrew Ebbett for the game winner. Then I exhaled.
A more detailed recap, chance data and the statistical three stars after the jump!
– The refereeing was pretty spotty throughout the game, though at least it was consistently inconsistent. The officiating crew missing a couple of easy calls on the Canucks in the first, before falling for a Vlasic dive in the third. The Bieksa high-sticking penalty late in the third period was legit as I see it, Bieksa made contact with Jamie McGinn’s visor even if the Sharks irishman forward sold the contact.
– The penalty I really had an issue with was the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that the referees assessed Ryan Kesler after he and Jamie McGinn (who had been harassing Kesler all evening without censure) exchanged pleasantries. McGinn wanted to go for obvious reasons (he’s a plug, Kesler’s a porsche) and Kesler didn’t, and the referees somehow found a way to penalize both of them. McGinn was blatantly trying to goad Kesler into a penalty, Kesler maintained his discipline and yet the referees gave McGinn what he wanted anyway with their cowardly nonsense. I hate that call.
– Considering how much time the Canucks spent short-handed, it’s very strange that the team only employed five penalty killing forwards in the game. Maxim Lapierre didn’t skate for a second while short-handed, while Jannik Hansen played three minutes and nine seconds down a man, which is as much short-handed ice-time as Dan Hamhuis received. Obviously the extended 4-on-3 that the Sharks got in the third period caused this, but it’s still odd. Odder still: Maxim Lapierre received fifteen seconds of power-play ice-time. Triple Odd Score: Daniel Sedin played 2 seconds short-handed, which, is two seconds more than Maxim Lapierre.
– Speaking of extended 4-on-3 power-plays, the Sharks might want to consider trading for Sami Salo. I hear he’s good at capitalizing on those 4-on-3 situations.
– Though the Sharks power-play looked horrendous to my eyes, and on multiple occasions made unforced errors that allowed the Canucks to make a timely change or clear the puck, they still managed 5 scoring chances in over six minutes of power-play time. Nonetheless, San Jose was forced to contend with several missed passes, and at least three totally inexplicable failures by the Sharks point-men to keep the puck in the zone at the offensive blue-line… Make no mistake, the Sharks failure to execute with the man-advantage in the third was the difference in the game.
– Also the difference in the game: Roberto Luongo. Luongo stopped 33 of 35 shots for the quality start and a number of his saves were of the wow variety. He robbed Joe Pavelski on three separate occasions, and managed to get in the way of a couple of San Jose rebound chances with desperation saves that belied the confidence and skill he is playing with at the moment. When Luongo plays like he has this past month, he’s as good as any goaltender in the league (except for Tim Thomas, probably) and is a pure joy to watch.
– When the Canucks and the Sharks last met in late November, Todd Mclellan deployed Vlasic with Burns and Pavelski’s line against the Sedins. On that night, though the Sharks lost the game, they totally dominated the Sedins at even-strength, and pinned the twins in their own end for most of their 5-on-5 shifts. Tonight, the Sedins primary matchup was against the Marleau line, and it was a matchup they won. Very strange.
– Speaking of odd match-ups, the Sharks primarily matched the Kesler line against a bruising trio of: Handzus, McGinn and Torrey Mitchell. Kesler’s line won this match-up as well, though to the Sharks credit, their odd checking combo did contain Kesler’s line and this matchup qualified as "low-event."
– Keith Ballard had another strong game at even-strength, finishing with a +4 chance differential in nearly fifteen minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time. I’m about ready to get onto the Keith Ballard redemption tour bandwagon, at the very least, he’s been extraordinarily impressive by the numbers throughout December.
Statistical Three Stars
- Roberto Luongo (stopped 9/11 scoring chances on net, 33 of 35 shots overall).
- Ryan Kesler (2 chance assists, 4 SOG, +3 EV chance differential, only 1 short handed chance against).
- Manny Malhotra (1 shot, 1 penalty drawn, 1 short handed chance against in over 2 minutes of SH TOI, even chance differential despite 12 defensive zone starts and 0 offensive zone starts).
Here are your advanced stat tables and your scoring chance data courtesy Vic Ferrari and timeonice.com.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20541
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