Samuelsson scores twice; Canucks Crush Sharks
The Canucks exorcised some demons friday night, absolutley dominating the San Jose Sharks 6 to 1.
It was a nice change of pace for the Canucks, who had struggled mightily against Joe Thornton's squad, going 2-9-2 in their last 11 against them.
It was a different story tonight.
The top three lines all generated goals, with Alex Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson twice, Jeff Tambellini, and Raffi Torres tickling the twine. Keith Ballard, in what had to be his best game of the season, had the other goal. The Canucks started strongly, with Tambellini depositing his third of the season past Antii Neimi only nine minutes into the game.
The Sharks simply didn't have their "A" game tonight, as they looked sluggish, indifferent and fatigued throughout the entire game. The had only a few premium scoring chances, with Dany Heatley lighting the lamp in the first period. He fired a shot past Roberto Luongo after Luongo had given up a juicy rebound. After the goal, however, Luongo calmed down and made save after sterling save, especially in the dying minutes of the first. In the second, Mikael Samuelsson, recently dropped from the second line to the third, responded in a big way, sniping a beautiful wrister past Niemi blocker side. It was not a game to remember for the Sharks netminder, as he allowed six goals on thirty two shots.
Raffi Torres also potted his 8th goal of the season, blasting a one timer past the leg pad of Neimi. The goal was a result of a beautiful, Henrik Sedin-esque pass from Jannik Hansen. With the goal, Torres snapped a 7 game goalless drought. Dan Hamhuis made sure the Sharks would remember his number, as he made Douglas Murray go end over end with a perfectly executed hip check, The third period saw Samuelsson score again, another beautiful wrist shot from right in front of the net.
Last year, Samuelsson went on an absolute tear when he was left off the Swedish Olympic team. Perhaps the demotion to the third line was exactly what the doctor ordered for the enigmatic swede, because he looked dominant at times on the third line with Manny Malhotra and Raffi Torres.The top line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alexandre Burrows looked dangerous all night and were finally rewarded when Henrik found Burrows near the side of the net. He sniped a one timer past the blocker side of Neimi. The drubbing concluded when Keith Ballard ripped a shot from the point that deflected off Tori Mitchell and past Niemi.
However, Niemi was not solely to blame for the poor effort. The Sharks vaunted defence routinely flubbed breakout passes, making sure their dynamic forward group couldn't find their stride. Dan Boyle, a premier defenseman in the NHL looked out of position, and couldn't seem to get comfortable. His normally pin-point passes often were off the mark. Perhaps the retirement of Rob Blake has damaged the Sharks backend more than anyone could've anticipated. Perhaps it's Manny Malhotra's defensive presence they miss; He was spectacular on draws and on the penalty kill again by the way.
Jannik Hansen was stellar, creating a hard forecheck, making plays offensively, and proving that he belongs somewhere else than the 4th line. The Canucks made a statement here at Rogers Arena tonight, proving that they have to be considered in the Stanley Cup discussion, and proving that this definitley is a different team than years past.
NOTES: Jeff Tambellini continues to make the most of his callup, getting his second point in as many games.. the Canucks 4th line did not play very much, and were hemmed in their own zone when they did.. Keith Ballard, Dan Hamhuis and Cristian Ehrhoff all had strong games.. Alex Burrows has scored goals in back to back games.