ONE - games: 7, 4 - 3 Canucks
OPPONENT: St. Louis Blues
At 7:13 a.m.
Central European Time it was complete. The Canucks really did what
(almost) noone expected them to do one week ago. The Nucks rallied
back from a 3-1 deficit and beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 in game 7
of the Western Conference Quarter Finals. The goals came from Hendrik
Sedin, Brendan Morrisson, Captain Markus Naslund on PP and Mr. Game
Seven Trevor Linden SH. A brilliant team effort paved the way to victory
despite falling behind 0-1 just one minute into the hockey game. Todd
Bertuzzi's crushing hits turned the tides midway through the first;
The Twins' spun the Blues dizzy; the big guns were a force all night;
birthday boy Dan Cloutier (27) maybe played the best game of his carreer
making 32 stops; Trevor Linden stabbed the dagger into the blues'
heart with his shorthander :28 into the third.
The stage was set. GM Place was ready to explode and the Vancouver Canucks had earned the right to play one game for the chance to move on in their home rink. They would not let that opportunity pass. The Canucks surrendered the first goal before taking over the game and trouncing the St. Louis Blues by a 4-1 score before a rabid sellout crowd at GM Place, to win the series 4 games to 3 and move on to face the Minnesota Wild in round two, starting Friday night.
The raucous GM Place crowd was quickly hushed when the Blues opened the scoring at 1:00 of the first period. Doug Weight picked up the puck behind the Vancouver goal and started behind the net, but reversed a backhand pass to Martin Rucinsky at the side of the net. Dan Cloutier had come away from the post just enough for Rucinsky to beat him short side and it looked as though shades of game one might be in the works. Dan Cloutier was forced to make two huge saves one of keith Tkachuk point blank an a Blues power play to keep the Canucks within one. But the Canucks quickly found their legs, and they would tie the game on an Al MacInnis turnover. MacInnis who dressed for the game despite his shoulder not being 100%, coughed up the puck to Daniel Sedin who fed brother Henrik in front of the net. Henrik beat Osgood upstairs to draw the Canucks even. The teams were deadlocked after one period, with St. Louis out shooting Vancouver 11-9 in the period.
In the second the Canucks did what they had done in the previous two games of their comeback...dominate. Brendan Morrision out home a Trevor Linden rebound at 7:20. The Canucks were out hitting and out hustling the Blues at both ends of the ice. Markus Naslund added a power play goal at 12:25 when his patented wrist shot deflected off the stick of Chris Pronger who was battling with Ed Jovanovski in front of Chris Osgood. The Canucks led 3-1 after two.
A late second period penalty to Jarkko Ruutu saw the Blues start the third with the power play, but it was the Canucks who would strike shorthanded. Doug Weight had a Canucks clearing attempt hit his skate, knocking him over. Trevor Linden pounced on the loose puck and streaked away two on one with Matt Cooke. Linden kept and beat Osgood, high to the glove side to give the Canucks a 4-1 lead and deflate the Blues. The Canucks would allow no comeback on this night, shutting the Blues down and playing a solid defensive game the rest of the way to win the series.
Turning Point: Todd bertuzzi just leveled Bryce Salvador behind the Blues net, and that seemed to get the Canucks kegs going. The Al MacInnis turnover that led to the first Canucks goal was huge as well.
Notes: The Canucks have now come back three times in their history from a 3-1 series deficit. Vancouver's last series win came way back in 1995 when they also defeated the St. Louis Blues, and was also won in game 7. Dan Cloutier celebrated his 27th birthday with his first NHL Playoff series win. With the win the Canucks will now take on the Minnesota Wild, who minutes before the Canucks clinched, defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in OT...Ah....the Avs can have the division.