For the Vancouver Canucks, rest conquered rust and they got better as Game 1 of the Western Conference final went along.
For the San Jose Sharks, the fatigue of a seven-game series win over the Detroit Red Wings caught up to them in the final 25 minutes, more so mental miscues than physical exhaustion.
Either way, the result was a 3-2 victory for the Canucks, and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven NHL playoff series.
Some other observations and impressions on Game 1...
It was the first time in three occasions this spring that the Canucks came back to win when trailing after two periods. San Jose had been 4-1 when leading after two periods. "That was huge," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "It's never easy to come back in this league, and it shouldn't be easy to come back in the conference finals." That said, it looked easy.
They forced San Jose's defence to turn around, chase loose pucks deep in their own zone, than make difficult plays with fore-checkers bearing down. Vancouver's dump-ins were particularly good in the third period, and led to turnovers. This could be a real weapon for the Canucks considering that San Jose's defence isn't the most adept at playing the disc.
When they had the puck, they looked real good and gave the
Canucks problems. When they didn't have the puck, they looked extremely ordinary. Kudos for going 24-15 in the face-off circle over the final 40 minutes, but the Sharks need to be quicker to loose pucks, and win more puck battles.
"In today's game, puck possession wins," said Sharks defenceman Doug Murray.
Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Antti Niemi
The Sharks come out of the game with at least three primary players who did enough to win. Thornton had two points, five shots on goal, and won 10 of 15 draws. Couture had five shots, two hits, four takeaways and three blocked shots. Niemi made 35 saves and was named the game's second star. He would've been the first star had San Jose won.