VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Going hard to the net? Good. Scoring a goal? Even better. Standing over the goaltender, looking down through the top of the net and talking smack afterward? Dumb.
Even dumber when all you did was score a garbage goal at the end of a 7-3 blowout loss in an important playoff game, a snowball you helped roll down the hill by taking boarding and tripping penalties earlier in the night.
That angered Eager, which led to a run of undisciplined third-period penalties that the Canucks quickly turned into a 7-3 rout of the Sharks on Wednesday night. Vancouver leads 2-0 in the Western Conference finals that now shifts to San Jose for the next two games. Game 3 is Friday.
“Yeah, I’ve heard about it,” said a grinning Bieksa. “(Alex Burrows) is probably the first guy to chirp me about it. It’s great, I guess. The main thing is we got the win, so that’s why I’m happy.”
It wasn’t the only thing Bieksa heard about after the game.
Eager called Bieksa “a phony” for fighting Marleau even though the San Jose forward admitted to issuing the challenge. Marleau has two inches and 20 pounds on Bieksa, but hadn’t fought in five years and was clearly outmatched.
“He goes after our top player,” Eager said. “He’s been asked many times (to fight) from lots of players throughout the league, and he’s declined.”
Eager never got the chance to ask. He was already in the penalty box. San Jose’s tough guy yelled at the Vancouver bench after the fight, then ran Daniel Sedin(notes) face first into the boards 90 seconds later, earning a boarding penalty.
“Eager was ranting and raving at his bench going berserk, but it wasn’t Kevin that dropped the mitts, it was Marleau,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “So I’m not sure what (Bieksa) was supposed to do there.”
Eager took another penalty for tripping Raymond 6:57 into the third period, Higgins made it 4-2 on the ensuing power play, and the rout was on.
“I can’t see in their heads, but I’m not sure what got them rattled,” Bieksa said. “I don’t really care too much about how they’re feeling.”
Daniel Sedin added his second power-play goal of the game midway through the third, Aaron Rome(notes) scored his first of the playoffs 3 minutes later, and Mason Raymond(notes) scored with 3:18 left shortly after a penalty expired.
“Ben Eager’s hit started a bit of a frustration level on our team,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We didn’t handle it very well. I’m not going to sit here and try to protect them. We lost composure. We were frustrated.”
Eager scored with 2:33 left, but even then he ended up in the penalty box for yapping at Luongo and sparking a scrum. Eager finished with five minor penalties and a 10-minute misconduct. The Sharks combined for 53 minutes in penalties and lost their fifth in six games.
San Jose’s lone win in that stretch was a Game 7 victory in the second round against Detroit that put the Sharks in the conference finals for the second straight year. If they don’t quickly regain their composure, their stay will be short.
“A real wise guy once told me you’re never really, really in trouble until you lose at home,” McLellan said. “We haven’t done that and we don’t plan on doing that. We’ve got to regroup. We’ve got to find composure, take our battle level up. There’s a few people in our group, and I’m not going to hide them anymore, they have to ask themselves whether or not they want to keep on competing.”
“We have to win the next game. Have to,” Couture said. “We’ve got to treat it like Game 7. We should have treated tonight like Game 7, and we didn’t.”
Notes: San Jose F Benn Ferriero(notes) was back on the fourth line in place of veteran Jamal Mayers(notes). … Sharks D Jason Demers(notes) missed a second straight game with an unidentified injury and was replaced again by Kent Huskins(notes). … Speedy Vancouver LW Jeff Tambellini(notes) replaced Tanner Glass(notes) on the fourth line for just his second NHL playoff game. … Vigneault said LW Mikael Samuelsson(notes) (leg), out since Game 5 of the second round, won’t travel to San Jose this series.