Canucks advance to Stanley Cup Final
The Vancouver Canucks may hate any comparison drawn between themselves and the hated Chicago Blackhawks, but Kevin Bieksa's series winning goal was certainly, how shall I say, Kane-esque?
Bieksa scored after Alex Edler unwittingly deflected the puck off the stanchion, directly to Bieska, who let go a weak shot that no one saw, least of all Sharks goaltender Anti Neimi, who didn't know where the puck was until it passed him into the net.
It was a strange goal, but hey, this was a strange series.
Alex Burrows, so clutch in big games with six goals in five elimination games this post season scored his seventh of the playoffs after a beautiful set up by the Sedin Twins.
The twins, by the way, were absolutely dominant tonight. Men playing against boys dominant.
So was Roberto Luongo, but more on that later.
The lead stood until almost ten minutes into the second period when Dan Boyle scored on the Powerplay, with an assist to Keith Ballard. Ballard had attempted to knock down the puck with his glove, but instead deflected it past Luongo. Note to all the young skaters out there; when it's a fifty foot shot, just get out of the way and let the goaltender earn his money.
The game was heavily slanted in San Jose's favor with the Sharks, for the second straight game I might add, badly outshooting the Canucks. The total for this game; 56 to 34. Yikes.
Luongo was dominant, he was spectacular. With pressure on, he was superb, stopping 20 shots in overtime alone. He finished with 54 saves, a performance reminiscent of his 72 save performance in 2007 against Dallas.
However, the Sharks couldn't muster much past Bobby Lou. Devon Setoguchi solved Luongo early in the third after Luongo came out to sweep the puck away, only to have Joe Pavelski beat him to the puck and poke it to Setoguchi, who potted the puck into a wide open net.
Things only got worse for Vancouver. Ryan Kesler was badly injured, needing assistance off the ice. He came back on for a couple of shifts in the third, but it was obvious he wasn't his normal self, laboring on long strides, and having almost all of his quickness taken away.
Yet it was Kesler, mustering all of his strength, skating basically on one leg, who was able to tie the game with a miniscule seventeen seconds left. He was able to deflect a Henrik Sedin shot past Anti Neimi. The crowd was jubilant, and Kesler collapsed into the arms of his teammates.
In overtime, the Sharks dominated, outshooting the Canucks 16 to 9. Luongo stopped them all.
Then, with just under ten minutes left in the second overtime, Bieksa played hero and sent the Canucks off to their first Cup final in 17 long years.
17 years ago,on May 24th, 1994 Jim Robsons triumphant voice echoed throughout the halls of Pacific Coliseum, "Greg Adams! Greg Adams! Greg Adams scores in overtime! The Canucks are going to the Stanley Cup Final!"
on May 24th, 2011 it was Jim Hughson paying homage to his mentor, proclaiming, "The Canucks are going to the Stanley Cup Final!"
Interesting note as I close up shop for the day;
In 1982, Smyl touched the Campbell trophy and the Canucks were swept by the Islanders.
In 1994, Linden touched it, broke it, and the Canucks lost in seven games to the Rangers.
In 2011, Henrik Sedin skated away.