A Giant 3-1 win to start series with Spokane Chiefs
By Marc Weber, The Province
April 3, 2009
More Images » Vancouver Giants centre James Henry breaks away from Spokane Chiefs defenceman Stefan Ulmer during the first period of WHL Game 1 playoff action at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver April 3.Photograph by: Nick Procaylo, The ProvinceWelcome back Garry Nunn.
The Vancouver Giants winger, scratched for the final two games of last series for violating team rules, scored the winner in Friday's 3-1 opening-game victory over the Spokane Chiefs at the Pacific Coliseum.
Vancouver looks to take a 2-0 series lead in this WHL Western Conference semifinal at home on Saturday (7 p.m., AM 650, Shaw TV).
Nunn, who jumped right back into his usual spot on the right side of the top line and was named first star, tipped a Jon Blum power-play point shot over the blocker of Dustin Tokarski at 6:40 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie.
Craig Cunningham scored into an empty net in the final minute to put the game away.
Nunn's goal came less than two minutes after Mitch Wahl had knotted the game up on a Spokane power play.
It was a night where special teams play decided the outcome, which is what many predicted considering this series matches up the top two defensive teams in the league, and the last two Memorial Cup-winning goalies.
The Giants came through on the penalty kill, too, as they were forced to kill off a Nick Ross clipping penalty in the final eight minutes, and did so with confidence.
Vancouver's power play against Spokane had not been effective coming into this series. Vancouver was one-for-10 against Spokane in two games this season, and they were 3-for-21 in last year's conference semifinal, won by the Chiefs in six games.
Through two periods Friday, the Giants had generated chances with the man advantage but hadn't finished them off.
Tokarski stoned sniper Evander Kane on a power play late in the second period, sprawling to get his left pad on a shot and a couple of rebound tries.
On the night, Tokarski shone with a 35-save performance.
Winger Mike Piluso opened the scoring for Vancouver with his second goal of the playoffs. Lance Bouma skated down the left-wing boards and fed a perfect pass though two sticks to Piluso at the far post. The finish was simple.
It was a hard-hitting, well played game with the Giants locking things down on defence. The line of Lance Bouma, James Wright and Craig Cunningham rendered Spokane's top unit of Drayson Bowman, Brady Calla and Ondrej Roman almost invisible and they'll need to get going for the Chiefs to have a chance.
Tyson Sexsmith made 18 saves for Vancouver.
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