The Vancouver Canucks emerged from a 4-3 loss in Game 3 claiming that they played with discipline, and the better team five-on-five.
Those were rich observations of head coach Alain Vigneault and defenceman Kevin Bieksa, respectively, and if they repeat those levels of discipline and even-strength play, than the Western Conference final will be tied heading back to Vancouver for Game 5 Tuesday.
Some other observations and impressions on Game 3...
When he was lost in the first period, after just three-plus minutes of ice time, it put the Canucks in a real bind. Sami Salo isn't at his best playing 24 minutes, and Ehrhoff's upper-body injury forced Bieksa (25:23), Dan Hamhuis (25:39), and Alexander Edler (23:21) to log heavy minutes. Two fresh defencemen could circle into the lineup, but with just 40 hours between the end of Game 3 and the start of Game 4, one wonders whether the core four will be fatigued.
Speaking of defencemen, they took six penalties totaling 14 minutes. It's one thing when non-penalty killing forwards sit in the box, but that also wasn't the case for Vancouver. Ryan Kesler (two penalties), Maxim Lapierre (two) and Alex Burrows (one) are all penalty killers. Bottom line, too many penalty killers committed penalties, which made San Jose's power play all the more dangerous.
The Canucks say they're helping the Sharks by allowing second and third chances, and not clearing the zone. San Jose has converted six of 12 man-advantage chances, and they could very well stay competitive in this series with the power play alone. The Canucks need some answers in Game 4.
Patric Marleau stole the headlines with two goals and three points, but Jumbo Joe had three assists and now leads the NHL in playoff scoring with 17 points.