Oh, Captain, my Captain! Luongo leads Canucks to second round after 4-2 game 6 win
I wouldn’t have expected anything else: a third period comeback with a late Daniel Sedin goal to earn the series victory over the Kings in Los Angeles. In true Canuck fashion, they waited until the last moment to ease their fans’ hearts, minds and souls.
Down 2-1 after two periods, Vancouver displayed maturity and poise by earning their 13th win when trailing after 2 periods. Kevin Bieksa scored two minutes into the final frame, sniping a shot through the legs of Jonathan Quick, tying the game at 2-2. Then, after controlling the play for most of the 3rd, Daniel Sedin sniped a shot with just over two minutes left and gave Vancouver the lead. Alex Burrows finally got on the scoresheet, potting an empty-netter to give the Canucks a 4-2 victory, and ending the series with the Kings in 6 games.
Roberto Luongo was huge in the net all night, making several marvelous saves to keep Vancouver in the game. His 2nd period save on Ryan Smyth may be the best save in the NHL playoffs so far. (Watch here). After an Andrew Alberts' turnover (Alberts didn’t even get a shift in the 3rd period), Luongo was sprawled out on the ice when the puck squirted out into the slot where a streaking Smyth wired a shot that the Canucks captain reached up and snagged with his glove in glamorous style. Luongo finished with 30 saves, and ended any doubt about his struggling play with another spectacular performance.
Steve Bernier continued his strong play, chipping in with another powerplay goal as he tipped in an Alex Edler point shot while screening Quick in front of the net. The former 1st round pick of the San Jose Sharks has seemed to find a role as a big body presence on the powerplay, while also killing off penalties for the Canucks. Bernier underachieved all year after scoring only 11 goals in 59 games.
Jonathan Quick was very shaky and awkward all night, but Vancouver was unable to generate many shots in the first 2 periods, with only six in the 1st and five in the 2nd. Quick was bobbling easy shots and giving out big rebounds all game, but the Canucks didn’t make him pay until the final frame.
Alex Edler didn’t have his best game of the series, but made a huge play in the 3rd when he chased down Michal Handzus on a breakaway and knocked the puck off Handzus’ stick before he could get a shot off.
As I mentioned earlier, Alberts didn’t play a single shift in the 3rd period, finishing with only 10:01 of icetime. He did, however, manage to stay out of the penalty box for the second straight game.
On a side note, did anyone else notice the Kings diving all night? Dustin Brown blatantly dove twice, one resulting in a Vancouver penalty. Now that the series is over, all this L.A conspiracy talk has to stop now, doesn’t it?
The Canucks will now rest up, and await the outcomes of the last two Western Conference matchups to find out who they play next. If the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators, Vancouver will get a chance at redemption for last year’s 2nd round ousting to the hands of the Hawks. If Nashville can win two straight against Chicago, the Canucks will face either the Detroit Red Wings or the Phoenix Coyotes. Those two teams meet in game 7 on Tuesday in Phoenix.
A rematch of last year’s epic round with Chicago could be an instant classic as both teams do not like each other very much. The Hawks scored 7 goals on Luongo and outclassed Vancouver in game 6 last year in a series that was extremely emotional. Chicago and Nashville play game 6 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal Monday night in Nashville with the Blackhawks leading the series 3-2.