The Goods: Seven7h heaven

Wednesday, 27.04.2011 / 2:30 AM / Features
By Derek Jory
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The Goods: Seven7h heaven

Early Tuesday morning Alex Burrows laughed that he had played his share of Game 7s in his basement as a kid and he hoped the practice would pay off.

It did. In the biggest way possible.

Burrows scored two goals, including the overtime game-winner, to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal Tuesday night at Rogers Arena.

After the Canucks and Blackhawks traded goals through 60 minutes, extra time was needed to determine if the Presidents’ Trophy winners could re-write history, or if they’d blow a 3-0 series lead and become a statistic in falling to their archrivals for the third straight season.

A mere 24 seconds into overtime, Burrows was called for holding and forced to sit for the longest two minutes of his life. The Canucks, thanks to an epic cross-crease save by Roberto Luongo on Patrick Sharp, killed the penalty giving Burrows a chance to redeem himself.

Less than three minutes later Burrows closed in on Chris Campoli as he tried to lift the puck out the Chicago zone; the Vancouver winger nabbed the puck like a line drive, throwing it to himself and he went in on Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.

Burrows, fighting a rolling puck, just tried to get a shot on net, a shot that eluded Crawford, a shot that sent the Canucks into a panic and fans at Rogers Arena and world wide into a frenzy.

“I was just able to get a shot on net and luckily it went in,” said Burrows, who said it was easily the biggest goal of his career.

“It’s a great finish, but I just want to thank the guys for killing off that penalty early in OT. It was the worst spot to be in the penalty box there and I was just happy Lu made a big save on Sharp there.”

Luongo was next to flawless making 31 saves, including 12 in the third period, but it’s the puck he didn’t stop that forced overtime.

Burrows opened the scoring 2:43 into the first period and Vancouver rode that one goal lead until late in the third period when Duncan Keith was called for hooking. A power play should have all but ended the game, instead Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews came together to tie the game, shorthanded, with 1:56 to play.

The Canucks were nearly pulled to the glass by the collective gasp from the hometown fans.

Instead, Vancouver is in bedlam with the Canucks finally enacting some revenge on the Blackhawks for two second round exists the last two seasons.

And you thought the men's gold medal game at the 2010 Olympics was stressful.

The parallels between the two games run deep, in fact, as a late goal evened up the game, but in the end, the good guys won.

“This one might be better than the Olympics, I’ve got to say,” laughed Luongo, who defended the same goal this overtime he did at the Games.

“The whole thing was pretty much the same game. They score late, make a couple saves in OT and boom, we get a huge goal.”

And a huge win.

“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves,” said Burrows, who has three goals and three assists in the playoffs. “We fought good for 58 minutes and that tying goal we just blew coverage a little bit and they got a bounce. We stuck with it, we still believed going into OT we could get it done and I think it feels even better getting it done this way.

“I thought we played another solid game, I thought we had some good scoring chances tonight and Crawford made some good saves. For us, Lu made some good saves too and he kept us in it; glad to see our leader Lu play that way for us.”

The Canucks will now face the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Semifinal with the start of the series yet to be set.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. For now, enjoy the fact that in the end Vancouver’s better was better than Chicago’s better.

NOTES

The Canucks were 3-1 in Round 1 when scoring first; Vancouver improves to 3-0 in playoffs when leading after 40 minutes; this was the 10th Game 7 in franchise history for both the Canucks and Blackhawks; Burrows was denied on a penalty shot early in the third period, it was the fifth penalty shot in a Canucks playoff game in franchise history.