San Jose closed-out the regular season with just one win in its last three games to fall to sixth in the Western Conference standings, but it quickly shook off the rust in Game 1 of this series with a stunning 3-1 victory as a 130 road underdog. The total stayed UNDER the 5-goal line after staying UNDER or ending as a PUSH in seven of their last nine regular season games.
The two teams played to a 1-1 tie through the first two periods of Wednesday night’s game, but Sharks’ defenseman Dan Boyle broke the tie midway through the third and Patrick Marleau added the insurance goal with around five minutes left in play. San Jose also got a huge effort from Antti Niemi in goal with 29 saves on 30 shots, Niemi came into this series with a goals-against-average of 2.16 and a .924 save percentage in 43 games.
The Canucks closed-out the regular season with just two wins in their last six games in which they were outscored 18-9. There had to be some concern heading into this series with an offense that had struggled to find the back of the net all season long with just 2.5 goals a game, but they are going to have to find a way to quickly end this slump to avoid falling into a huge hole in this series as favorites.
It is hard to place too much blame on Roberto Luongo’s performance in goal in Game 1 with 25 saves on 28 shots after once again getting the call for an injured Cory Schneider. He showed serious signs of rust in the two final regular season games after allowing 10 goals in losses to Anaheim and Edmonton. Vancouver’s fate not only in Friday night’s game but in this entire could rest on Luongo’s ability to return to form if Schneider is still unable to go. He is currently listed as questionable on the latest injury report, but continues to insist that he is ready to go.
Sharks vs. Canucks Betting Lines and Trends
The NHL odds have opened the Sharks as 129 road underdogs on the money line with Vancouver listed as a 142 home favorite. The total line for this contest has been set at 5.
The Sharks are 8-1 in their last nine games against a team with a winning record and 14-3 in their last 17 games against teams from the Northwest Division. The total has stayed UNDER in five of their last seven games on the road.
The Canucks are 8-2 in their last 10 home games and 6-2 in their last eight games playing on one day’s rest. The total has stayed UNDER in 15 of their last 22 games overall.
Head-to-head in this matchup, San Jose has now won all four previous meetings with the total staying UNDER or ending as a PUSH in all four games.
Sharks vs. Canucks Free NHL Pick
The Sharks have owned the Canucks this season, but Vancouver is just too good of a team to drop back-to-back playoff games, and for that reason I am backing them with my NHL picks tonight. Look for Schneider to work his way back into the lineup just in time to help his team even this series at one game apiece.
Canucks 3 Sharks 1 (lines provided by BetOnline)Year-to-Date NHL Record: 31-18-2