The Vancouver Canucks grabbed an amusing 4-2 road win Sunday afternoon over the San Jose Sharks, making the series count 3-1 in favor of the Canucks for the third straight series. Vancouver failed to put either Chicago or Nashville away on Game 5’s home ice, but will get a third crack at a fifth game clincher Tuesday night.
I was in and out for this game, but upon checking the stats two things jumped out at me. It wasn’t all of the 5-on-3 goals that Vancouver got in the second period, nor the Sharks’ 0 for 5 power play fiasco. First, San Jose gave the puck away 18 times in Game 4. Conversely, Vancouver made only five charitable donations. The takeaway numbers were 10 to 3 in favor of Vancouver as well. Eighteen giveaways makes no sense in an all-in home playoff game. This kind of a performance only adds fuel to the team’s detractors, and eventually the Sharks will mentally succumb and adopt the characteristics that they feel they are unfairly labeled with. That is, of course, if they haven’t already done so.
The second stat that made me laugh was the shots on goal total. San Jose 35, Vancouver 13. That’s not backwards. Vancouver scored four goals on thirteen shots, giving Antti Niemi a whopping nine saves and a laughable .692 save percentage. Of course, this evaluation of Niemi isn’t entirely fair, since the Canucks scored three goals on three shots with the two-man advantages, but his even strength save percentage was still only .857. Roberto Luongo’s, meanwhile, was a solid .923 before you count his 8 saves in killing off every Sharks power play.
This shot total paints a picture of a bullfight, where San Jose kept charging and coming close to scoring, only to see Vancouver dance aside at the last millisecond to not only dodge pain, but inflict embarrassment on the Sharks. And to lose a game 4-2 in which you outshot your opponents 35 to 13, there’s no way to not feel some embarrassment, on top of some anger, and maybe even a touch of despair. We’ll find out in Game 5.
Vancouver deserves a well done for grabbing the road split they wanted, and have the opportunity to finally get back to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1994. Game 5 is Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. ET, 6:00 p.m. PT in Vancouver.
Of note: 2010 league MVP Henrik Sedin assisted on all four Vancouver goals in Game 4.