VANCOUVER – Raffi Torres was the overtime goal-scorer in the Sharks’ 3-2 win over the Canucks on Friday, but it was Brent Burns that made the game-winner happen, blocking a shot by Alex Edler in the defensive zone and racing ahead the other way.
Burns, whose natural instincts at forward are evident, brilliantly held on to the puck and stared down Roberto Luongo before a perfect, last second tape-to-tape pass to Torres for the easy conversion.
Luongo, who has played well in two defeats, gave an honest assessment of the goal.
“Burns did an unbelievable play. He was holding it and faking it,” Luongo said. “I was trying to stay patient with him, and he ended up feeding it across for a one-timer that Raffi put upstairs. It was a good goal by them.”
The Canucks goalie also gave his view of Patrick Marleau’s tying goal, which started with a blocked shot by Edler on Dan Boyle’s attempt from the wall. Marleau got the loose puck and put it on net, and then slid home the rebound behind Luongo.
“It went off of, I think, our d-man's shin pad and went right on [Marleau’s] stick. I thought I had got down in time to have it in my legs, but it snuck behind me and was laying there,” Luongo said.
“It's a tough loss, a heartbreaker, but that's what playoffs are all about. It's going to be important for us as a group to come to the rink tomorrow and 100 percent focus on Game 3.”
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Ryan Kesler was far and away the Canucks’ best forward in Game 2, landing bone-crushing checks, drawing penalties, scoring goals and just, well, playing like Ryan Kesler when he’s on top of his game.
He was pleased of his team’s effort despite the loss.
“We've got to lay it all out there, every game, every shift. I felt we did that,” Kesler said. “I'm proud of the way the guys battled all night. We get more of that next game, we're going to come out on top.”
While Kesler was effective, Alain Vigneault would like to see more from the Sedin twins, who have yet to register a point at even strength. They both assisted on Kesler’s power play goal.
“Kesler was better. He skated, he hit, he did what we expected him to do. We need the same thing from our group,” Vigneault said.
“You win because you’re getting contributions from everybody and, right now, we need that. The twins worked hard, but five-on-five they need to find the scoresheet, and they know that more than anybody else.”
Todd McLellan chose not to address Kesler’s performance when asked specifically about the forward after the game.
“There were a lot of good players on the ice for both teams,” McLellan said.
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According to Elias, Patrick Marleau’s late goal was the second time in Sharks franchise history that the team tied a playoff game with less than a minute to go in regulation. The last time it happened was April 10, 2010, when Joe Pavelski scored with 32 seconds left in Game 2 of a first round series with Colorado. The Sharks won that game, too, on a goal by Devin Setoguchi.
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There have been two games played in each of the four Western Conference first rounds, and each has seen one overtime game. The road team has won twice, including Detroit’s victory in Anaheim in Game 2 of that series on Thursday.
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History is on the Sharks’ side. In a best-of-seven series all-time, a team that takes a 2-0 series lead has won 86.7 percent of the time.
Surprisingly, that number is lower when the first two wins come on the road. In that situation, the leading team has gone on to win 76.6 percent of the time (41 of 59).