San Jose unraveled and Vancouver hit its stride in Game Two, a Canucks rout paced by Kevin Bieksa and the Sedins.
Bieksa, who has been a workhorse for the Canucks in this postseason, did a little bit of everything to get the Canucks going. He started by scoring on a breakaway, off a terrific cross-ice feed from Chris Higgins to give Vancouver a 3-2 lead, followed with a decisive win in a fight against Patrick Marleau, then capped his Gordie Howe hat trick with an assist on Higgins' power play goal that made it 4-2.
The exchange with Marleau was the strangest. Understandably, Bieksa, a physical defenceman was giving Marleau a few shots along the boards, the kind of little crosschecks that wouldn't get called penalties, and when Marleau took exception, Bieksa lured him into the fight, for which Marleau was first to drop the gloves.
Given their respective histories as pugilists -- Marleau had six career fights in 1155 career games (regular season and playoffs) and Bieksa had 30 in 492 games -- it wasn't altogether surprising that Bieksa was the clear winner.
While some will credit skilled forward Marleau for standing up to a physical defenceman when challenged, the end result brought to mind the line from Slapshot, "Bleed on 'em, let 'em know you're there."
Bieksa's defence partner, Dan Hamhuis, added three assists, an offensive surge for a defenceman that had two points to this point of the playoffs.
Game Two was also a tremendous game for Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, who combined for five points (two goals for Dnaiel, three assists for Henrik) and put on some terrific displays of puck possession.
San Jose doesn't really have the kind of shutdown defence pairing to contain the Sedins like the tandems that they've faced in the first two playoff series. While Chicago could send Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook against the twins and Nashville had Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, San Jose just doesn't have a comparable pair.
Douglas Murray and Ian White saw the most time against the Sedins at five-on-five, but they weren't even partners, so it was really a mixed bag thrown at the Sedins, with unimpressive results.
Trade deadline acquisition Chris Higgins had a goal and two assists for the Canucks, giving him seven points in the postseason.
For all the good that the Canucks did in Game Two, one of the biggest stories of the game was that of Sharks winger Ben Eager, who lost any semblance of composure after the Bieksa-Marleau scrap, putting the Sharks shorthanded three times in the last 21 minutes of the game, the last time coming when he gloated over Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo after scoring a goal to cut the deficit to four with 2:33 remaining.
Eager ended up playing 10:59, his most ice time in a playoff game since May, 2009 (a 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings), and the results were, sadly for San Jose, predictable.
The night wasn't a great one for Sharks winger Devin Setoguchi, who was minus-3 and didn't record a shot on goal. He hadn't been minus-3 in a game since January, 2009. It was the first time in this year's playoffs that Setoguchi had been held without a shot on goal, and only three times all season did he record zero shots on goal with as much playing time (13:26) as he received in Game Two.
While the emotion in Vancouver following a blowout win practically had the Canucks booking reservations for the Stanley Cup Final, it's still premature to write off the Sharks, who get the next two games at home.
Surely the Sharks will bring a more inspired -- and focused -- effort against the Canucks in Game Three. If they have any hope of rallying in this series, there is no other choice.