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Canucks stun Sharks 3-2 in double overtime to head to first Stanley Cup finals since 1994

May 25, 2011, 2:06 AM EDT

San Jose Sharks v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five Getty Images

It turned out to be a classic Game 5 between Vancouver and San Jose and one that will go down as one of the most bizarre finishes to a game in Stanley Cup playoffs history Canucks took out the Sharks in double overtime 3-2. The night’s game winner came thanks to a magical bounce off the glass that went right to Kevin Bieksa who knuckled home the game winner to beat Antti Niemi and send the Canucks to their first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1994.

The first 60 minutes of the game went as up and down as you might expect with the teams trading goals and trading rushes to turn this game into an instant classic.

In the first period it was Alexandre Burrows getting the Canucks off on the right foot with a little help from Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin as they teamed up on a passing play that’s fitting for any highlight reel around.

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In the second period, the Sharks would continue to exert control over the game. Through two periods of  play the Sharks would outshoot the Canucks 25-11 and in the second, the Sharks would get one back on the power play, much the same way they have all series long, and here it would be Patrick Marleau apparently getting a stick on a point shot from Dan Boyle.

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In the third period, Devin Setoguchi would give the Sharks a 2-1 lead scoring 24 seconds into the period. With the way San Jose was dominating in shots on goal and in play all around, Vancouver’s task to get back into the game was a tall one.

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As the period wore on, the teams would trade chances and with the game into the final minute of play where things would get a bit controversial. San Jose’s Dan Boyle would clear the puck out of the San Jose end as the Canucks were turning up the pressure with Roberto Luongo out of the net for the extra attacker. The puck went all the way down and was touched up for icing. What the officials missed, however, is that the puck glanced off of Daniel Sedin’s back. That touch should’ve negated icing but instead the faceoff came in teh Sharks zone.

On that faceoff, the Canucks won it, controlled the play in the zone where Ryan Kesler would tip a Henrik Sedin shot past Antti Niemi (31 saves) to tie the game up with 13.2 seconds remaining in regulation. What was a dominating effort from San Jose was now reset with the teams headed to overtime and the Sharks playoff lives on the line.

The teams would trade chances in the first overtime but ultimately come away empty with the Sharks continuing to outshoot Vancouver in the first extra period, this time peppering Roberto Luongo for 16 shots. Overall in the game Luongo would prove to be electric stopping 54 shots. Fortunately for him, his efforts wouldn’t go to waste in the second overtime.

There, the teams took a bit more of a selective pace to the game as players grew more tired and taking chances became risky. The Canucks would get a great chance in second overtime as Chris Higgins would get a breakaway thanks to a Sharks mishandle in the neutral zone but Niemi would close the legs up and shut it down.

At 10:18 of the second overtime though, things would get weird as a Canucks attempted dump deep into the zone off the glass would hit a partition and bounce right back out to the point to Kevin Bieksa who took advantage of everyone else who thought the puck had either gone into the crowd or the netting as he ripped home a shot that beat Niemi for the goal sending Rogers Arena into jubilation. For Bieksa it was his fourth goal of the series and fifth in the playoffs.

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For Vancouver, it’s their first Western Conference championship since 1994 when they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs for the Campbell Bowl and a spot in the Stanley Cup finals. The Canucks clinched their spot in 1994 thanks to a double overtime goal as well. History is funny that way. For what it’s worth, Canucks captain would not even touch the trophy when NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly presented it to him following the game. Keep that in mind for all of your superstition needs.

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San Jose has nothing to hang their head about. Sure the series finished in five games, but the Sharks didn’t exactly play terrible in the series. Tonight they ran into a red hot Roberto Luongo and were vexed by a pair of fortunate bounces for the Canucks. In the series, the Canucks were just a better team and being beaten by the better team is expected in the playoffs. Some folks will talk about them being “chokers” or start lumping this Sharks team with others in the past that failed to live up to expectations, but that’s just not the case here.

Vancouver will now wait to see who they’ll face in the Stanley Cup finals be it Boston or Tampa Bay. Boston will have a chance to wrap up their spot in the final on Wednesday night in Tampa as they hold a 3-2 series lead. Should Boston make the final, it would be their first appearance since 1990 when the Bruins lost to a Mark Messier-led Edmonton Oilers team. If Tampa forces a Game 7, that will be played on Friday night in Boston.

Here are the highlights from Game 5.

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  1. rocketfueler - May 25, 2011 at 4:22 AM

    The Canucks were lucky to get out of this with a win. Almost every call in the entire game went against them — they only had one power play that I can remember, although at times they dominated play as if they had a man advantage. The officials were out of position and in the way. In over 45 years of watching NHL hockey, I’ve never seen pucks bounce off referees and linesmen the way they did tonight.

    Quite ironic that the Canucks last made it into the finals on this date in 1994, before getting whomped by the Rangers. Tim Thomas is hotter now than Mike Richter ever was, so if I were a Canuck, I’d be pulling for Tampa.

    This was definitely the most memorable Canucks game I’ve ever been to, the others being the game in which Marty McSorely hit Donald Brashear in the head with his stick and knocked him out, and the other being the one in which Todd Bertuzzi broke Steve Moore’s neck. At least this was a good experience and no crimes were committed on the ice tonight.

    • cannonblast14 - May 25, 2011 at 7:31 AM

      The refs gave Canucks an icing call that actually went off D. Sedin. That saved them in this game. I wouldnt be bashing the refs after that. Or you can bash the refs, just not the linesman

  2. abrienza428 - May 25, 2011 at 8:01 AM

    2 years in a row San Jose has run into a team that looks destined to win the Cup in the conference finals. I know it’s probably not a popular opinion, but I don’t see San Jose as “chokers” anymore. Vancouver was just better, plain and simple.

  3. polegojim - May 25, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    Canucks were the more poised and strategic team through the entire series and deserved the win.

    I disagree with McLelllan – there WAS something they could have done— score FIRST in 1OT or in 2OT. Celebrate all the shots on goal if you want. They don’t count unless they go IN.

    The Sharks were not helpless victims of a bouncing puck – you make your own luck in the playoffs. Bieksa and the Canucks did that.

    Unchecked emotion lead to the Sharks undoing from game one – their perennial frustration showed. Changes are coming…and should be.

  4. govtminion - May 25, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Who is still calling the Sharks ‘chokers’ anyway? After the past couple of years of very good, hard-fought playoff performances, I sure don’t see it. I saw a team playing with confidence, skill, and grit- it wasn’t enough to break the Canucks, but at this point I don’t know that any team could anyway.

    The thing that impressed me most? The Sharks were jumping into the play with their defensemen. They were taking chances of getting caught with their pants down on an odd-man rush the other way. And we haven’t seen them do that as much in previous years- it’s amazing what having confidence in your goalie can do, isn’t it? The Sharks trusted Niemi to bail them out if needed- and he performed very well. I never got the impression they trusted Nabokov the past few years like this (can’t imagine why).

    The days of calling the Sharks chokers are long gone. Let’s save that title for a team that really deserves it… the Washington Capitals.

    • polegojim - May 25, 2011 at 3:39 PM

      I buy that – but at some point, they need to win a Cup, period.

      No one takes Washington seriously anymore. The same could happen to San Jose.

      There was not a better team in the league than the Sharks this year. Not one-not even my Red Wings

      It’s not realistic or reasonable to think that every year they run into a team ‘destined’ to win a Cup.
      Too many people use the term ‘destiny’ to cover up failure or responsibility.

      I don’t believe in ‘destiny’, I believe in Championship effort.

      Only the Sharks can decide when that team is THEM!!!

  5. jpelle82 - May 25, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    agreed. big joe played his butt off hurt and cant blame marleau anymore either. canucks were just a better team. caps are definitely the chokers in my book

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