Canucks at 50: 'It's all the way to the end and the last play of the game'

Opinion: "When you play a game like that, you understand the reality of the playoffs," said Stars defenceman Philippe Boucher.

Antti Miettinen, centre, of the Dallas Stars beats goalie Roberto Luongo of the Canucks as Vancouver teammate Willie Mitchell, left, looks on during an NHL playoff game at GM Place on April 11, 2007. The Canucks scored in the fourth overtime to win 5-4. Jeff Vinnick / Getty Images

Share Adjust Comment Print

As a single moment, it was an epic one for the ages. The Canucks opened the 2007 playoffs with a win in the longest game in franchise history, scoring the winner at 18:06 of the fourth overtime period.

The Canucks would go on to win the series in seven games, but would lose in five games to Anaheim, who would go on to win the Stanley Cup in the next round. After the gruelling opening game,

Ed Willes of The Province wrote:

The matter of post-game forensics in the playoffs is usually simple enough. A few storylines emerge from every contest. They’re placed under a microscope and dissected to within an inch of their lives. The sages then discuss their findings and, from this process, eternal truths are extracted.

That’s, at least, the way it usually works. Then there’s Game 1 of the Vancouver Canucks-Dallas Stars’ opening-round series.

Depending on your point of view, the Stars either suffered a catastrophic loss — “A rusty skate boot to the testicles,” as Stars colourman Darryl Reaugh so eloquently put it after Henrik Sedin scored the winner in quadruple overtime — or proved to themselves that they can beat the Canucks.

Goalie Marty Turco either continued a pattern of playoff futility with a spotty performance in regulation or exorcised those demons with a strong performance in OT.

The Canucks, for their part, were either luckier than Paris Hilton’s prom date after they were outplayed in periods 3, 4 and 5 or earned the victory with a courageous performance in periods 6 and 7. And either the Canucks seized the momentum with Henrik’s winner early Thursday or they lost it later Thursday afternoon with the news that Ryan Kesler is out of the lineup for a month, and Matt Cooke and Alex Burrows are both injured.

There’s more, of course, but the fact is, despite assertions from both dressing rooms to the contrary, Enrico freaking Fermi couldn’t make sense of this one. Perhaps, in the fullness of this series, some of these threads will reveal themselves to be relevant, but heading into Game 2, we can tell you two things with certainty:

1. The Canucks are up 1-0 and Game 2 is set for tonight.

2. No one was complaining about their ice time after Game 1.

“We feel like we can beat these guys here, at home, anywhere,” said Turco.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault was asked about the ideas he had formulated after watching the game tape.

“I’m just at the end of Period 5 here,” he said. “I’ve still got two more periods to get through. There were a lot of positives for both teams. They’re going to get their positives. We’ll get ours. And we’ll get back at it (tonight).”

And maybe things will be clearer by then, because Game 1 didn’t offer anything conclusive.

The Canucks’ story arc included a good start; a 4-2 lead with under 12 minutes left in the game; then a complete collapse that saw the Stars tie the score in regulation and dominate the first two periods of OT.

The Stars, for their part, could boast of the comeback. But they were also facing a team that was down to 10 forwards by the first OT, and there doesn’t figure to be a lot more games where goalie Roberto Luongo gives up four goals in regulation.

If there was a positive development for the Canucks, in fact, it was that so many of their players mirrored the interesting night of their superstar goalie. Luongo allowed the four goals in the first 60 minutes, two of which carried a distinct odour, then stopped all 36 shots in OT and came within one save of tying Kelly Hrudey’s playoff record.

Kevin Bieksa, meanwhile, was terrible in the first period, taking three straight minors and handling the puck like it was radioactive, then finished the night with 54:27 of ice time, a plus-one rating and an appreciation of the playoff’s rigours. The Sedins were on the ice for both Dallas goals in the third period but came back with an epic performance in the final two periods of overtime. Jeff Cowan got a battlefield promotion when Cooke went down with a groin injury and was stellar in OT. Even Jan Bulis was rock-solid.

The Stars have their own stories to tell, but that’s the beauty of a contest like Game 1. And the best part? We’re just getting started.

“When you play a game like that, you understand the reality of the playoffs,” said Stars defenceman Philippe Boucher. “There’s no shootouts. There’s no quick endings. It’s all the way to the end and the last play of the game.”

Which is the other thing you’ll be able to say about this series.

As the Canucks celebrate their 50th season, we’re looking back at the moments that stand out as the biggest in franchise history on and off the ice, the good and a few bad. We’re highlighting the top moments from the 1970s through November 2019, the ’80s in December 2019, the ’90s in January, the ’00s in February 2020 and the ’10s in March 2020.

If you have any great memories of where you were when your favourite moments happened, or what they meant to you, send them to

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email