The Goods: Canucks crown round 1
Four wins down, 12 to go...
You want to know what happened in the Canucks game and you want to know now. We get it. Here’s the bare bones recap of Vancouver’s 4-2 win over Los Angeles in Game 6 of their Western Conference series.
IT WAS OVER WHEN...
…Alex Burrows broke an 11-game goalless drought and potted an empty-netter to secure a 4-2 Vancouver win over Los Angeles and advance the Canucks to the Western Conference Semi-Final for the second consecutive season.
The Canucks weren’t in favour of heading back to Vancouver for a seventh a deciding game with the Kings, but going by the first period, that looked to be in the cards.
LA was relentless in the opening 20 minutes outscoring, outshooting, outchancing and outhitting Vancouver, it was 1-0 Kings with shots 16-5 going into the second.
Steve Bernier turned the tide for the Canucks with his fourth goal of the playoffs 8:38 into the middle frame on the power play, but the Kings regained a one-goal lead late.
Nervous nail biting by Canucks fans lasted just 1:57 into the third as Kevin Bieksa’s first post-season score evened the game at 2-2. That cued Vancouver’s 13th third period comeback this season, although it wasn’t until the 17:57 mark that Daniel Sedin gave Vancouver its first lead of the game. Off a broken stick shot by Mikael Samuelsson, Daniel Sedin beat Jonathan Quick with a quicker wrist shot for his second game winning goal of the series.
Burrows’ first goal and first point of the opening round sealed the deal to break Vancouver’s streak of four straight game six’s lost on the road dating back to 2003.
The Canucks are now 4-1 all-time when leading a series 3-2.
The big handshake with the Kings wouldn’t have been possible on this night without Roberto Luongo playing his best game of the series.
Luongo turned aside a series-high 30 shots to backstop Vancouver to the series clinching win; he allowed two goals for the third time this series, all wins.
After winning just one of his first three starts to begin the playoffs, and making way for Andrew Raycroft midway through a Game 3 loss, Luongo responded with victories in his next three starts.
Said defenceman Kevin Bieksa of his captain’s performance, “Lu really stepped up his game tonight. We needed him and he made the key saves when he had to and we did a pretty good job in front of him.”
In a chess game of line matching throughout the series, the Sedins weren’t always successful at playing like the Sedins.
It looked as though Sunday was an off night for the twins until they found their legs and led the Canucks to a three-goal third period.
The tormenting Sedins combined for only three shots, but Daniel made the most of his lone attempt and it counted as the golden goal. Daniel and Henrik combined for three points (1-2-3) to finish the series with 18 (5-13-18), alongside a plus-13 rating.
Of the five Sedin goals scored, three were game-winners. The twins have amassed eight playoff game changers in their career.
THE SWIPE ON SMYTH
If Roberto Luongo were any other goalie, his glove hand savagery on Ryan Smyth in the second period of this game would be remembered as the save of the year and possibly his career.
He’s Luongo, though, and by his spectacular standards it was just another brick in the wall.
After Andrew Alberts turned the puck over to Anze Kopitar inside the Vancouver zone, the LA forwards’ shot sailed wide of the goal. Wayne Simmonds picked up the rebound and tried to stuff it past Luongo but the puck dribbled out in front of the goal where Smyth was waiting to unload a one-timer. He did just that, but somehow, someway, Luongo, from his side, was able to get his glove in the way of the bullet to preserve a tie game.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
From dreadful to masterful, the Canucks were able to wrangle some penalty killing in the nick of time.
The Kings were 9-for-16 on the power play after four games as the Canucks struggled mightily while down a man; the cure was a more aggressive attack and getting some favourable bounces, which Vancouver did in its last two outings.
The Canucks stopped all five Kings power plays in Game 6 and held them to one goal on five attempts in Game 5. Los Angeles tied Vancouver’s playoff record for most power play goals against in a series with 10, but the series win by the Canucks ensures a short memory of that stat.
FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Roberto Luongo on his play, the save on Smyth and the lack of panic from the Canucks when trailing 2-1 in the series:
”I’ve been feeling good the whole series, maybe the stats haven’t been there, but I’m feeling confident, I feel like I’m on top of my game and at the end of the day it’s all about getting the wins and we were able to win this series and move on.
”There was a turnover in our zone and I came out to challenge and someone missed the net and I was kind of scrambling to get back to my post. The puck squirted out to the slot and I was lying on my side and I saw Smyth winding up, luckily for me he doesn’t have a heavy shot and I was able to snare it.
”We didn’t feel like we were getting the bounces our way. You’ve just got to put that behind you and have a short memory in the playoffs and keep fighting through it and I think we did a good job, we still allowed a few goals but we battled through certain things and we were able to cover them.”
The Canucks will savour their first round victory by taking Monday off, then it’s back to the books as the team prepares for a difficult second round matchup against whoever they face.
If the Chicago Blackhawks are able to close out their series win a win Monday over the Nashville Predators, the Canucks will meet the Blackhawks in the round for the second consecutive season.
I don’t need to tell you how big of a series that would be.
Canucks win series 4-2
2 – Second time advancing to the second round in the last two seasons.
3 – Game-winning goals by the Sedins vs. LA (Daniel 2, Henrik 1).
4 – Wins when scoring a power play goal (4-1).
12 – Playoff wins all-time when having a chance to clinch a best-of-seven series (12-9).
30 – Saves by Roberto Luongo in his best game of the post-season.
“We came out with the mentality that we have to come from behind for the 13th time this season and we were able to do it again."
-Kevin Bieksa (on the comeback)
“We’ve got such a good team here and we’ve got to look forward to anyone, it doesn’t matter who we play, we should have a good chance."
-Daniel Sedin (on the 2nd round)
“That first period was all them, we knew they were going to come out hard and strong and they did. But he kept us in."
-Alain Vigneault (on Roberto Luongo)
This wasn't as masterful a performance upfront from the Canucks, but they did just enough to get by.
Secondary scoring was again huge with Steve Bernier, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows all finding the back of the net.
The last line of defence was great all night, even when the pair in front of him weren't. Bieksa and Edler had strong games at both ends.
The Canucks were 1-for-5 on the power play, while holding the Kings to 0-for-5 on the man advantage. 0-for-5!