(I hate to start the blog with this but c'mon...this is freaking hilarious...Turco was named the #3 star in the building and Henrik #2...LOL!!! What a joke!)
Marty Turco had 35 saves to preserve his 1st career playoff shutout, and the Dallas Stars played a full 60 minutes to win game two, 2-0, and steal the home ice advantage! The series shifts to Dallas for game 3, even at 1-1. As predicted in my last blog, Dallas turned in an even more dominate performance, with an added bonus of Turco being impenetrable. The Barnes-Halpern-Lundqvist line were excellent on the checking end as well as responsible for both goals. Jeff Halpern scored off the opening face-off, 36 seconds into the game; the Canucks defense was apparently late to the game, as Halpern was all alone in front for a deft deflection. Same story at the beginning of the second period...Joel Lundqvist scored his first career playoff goal off a sweet back-hand pass from Modano. Again, he was all alone in front and able to lift it top-shelf. Barnes assisted on both goals and all three shut down every line they were up against. Modano was flying and Zubov and Lehtinen were rock-solid, as usual. Steve Ott was in the lineup for some extra grit...he played his usual hyper game. The game was once again filled with numerous penalties; the irony is that most of the actual calls were really ticky-tack calls, while some obvious penalties were let go. I really do not believe the refs know it is playoff time...they cannot continue to bog down the game...some of the calls were simply made "because they could." When the teams did skate evenly, there was some spirited hockey played, especially in the first. I thought both teams skated really well with several scoring chances on each end. It doesn't show on the sheet, but the Canucks had their best push in the last half of the second period. They tried really hard to get at least one back. The Sedin's were strong and Naslund was excellent...way better than he was in game 1 (which, for me, was just okay). He skated well, created chances, and even brought a physical punch. It was a great move by Vigneault to reunite Naslund with the Sedin's...they didn't miss a beat. I expect to see much more of that line in the next few games. Luongo was solid again, especially on the penalty kills; both goals were mainly the fault of the defense. I also thought the two call-ups were impressive and played as if they belonged. The Canucks did fire off 17 shots in the third, but there was very little real sustained pressure. And when there was, Turco was there...he was the number one star by his third period alone! The Canucks seemed to have lost their legs after the second period push...they did not have much gas left in the tank which created the lack of sustained pressure. Again, I believe this comes down to a huge Stars advantage...Tippett can role out all four lines equally, and he does. Dallas does not get tired, even when they have to kill off penalties or make a third period comeback. This game was an excellent answer to the disappointing overtime loss. The Stars, and especially Turco, are headed back to Dallas with renewed confidence and swagger, and a 1-1 tie!
I still think this will be a six game series...but look for the Stars to take both at home!
Some quick final thoughts...(1) Modano took 3 high sticks in the game (with only one penalty called)...surely this was not part of the game plan, eh?? (2) Bieksa followed up his screwy game 1 and decided to go completely idiotic AFTER the final buzzer had sounded...BRILLIANT! (3) Aside from Bieksa's troubles, and other than Willie Mitchell, the entire Canucks defense is a big mess...they had numerous turnovers and lack of coverage. (4) I noticed none of you Canuck fans decided to stay up and give us your thoughts...I can only assume this means you are a little worried right now. This series is far from over...but you have to give me this one...I called it!