Ducks knock out Canucks in double OT
Roberto Luongo was a one-man show as the rest of the Vancouver Canucks failed to show up for much of Thursday's season-ending loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
Scott Niedermayer scored 4:30 into the second overtime period as the Ducks downed the visiting Canucks 2-1 in Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal before a crowd of 17,407 at the Honda Center.
Anaheim took the best-of-seven series 4-1.
"Roberto was able to put his best game on the ice, probably his best game of the season," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said. "And for whatever reason, it was not from a lack of trying or lack of willingness, but not a lot of our other guys were able to do the same thing.
"We had some people that were pretty banged up. They tried their best."
After Rob Niedermayer knocked rookie Jannik Hansen off the puck, Scott Niedermayer kept it in the offensive zone and fired it at the net, catching Luongo off guard.
"My brother got a big hit on their guy and the puck slid to me," Scott Niedermayer said. "I just tried to get a wrist shot on net and I don't know if he didn't see it or what."
"It was a seeing-eye shot that bounced its way to the back of the net," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. "It isn't always the prettiest goal in overtime."
It was Niedermayer's first goal of the playoffs and came on Anaheim's 63rd shot, a franchise high.
"You can get frustrated if you study on the shot clock," Carlyle said. "We didn't focus on that at all.
"We were getting our chances. Their goaltender played a heck of a hockey game."
Luongo totalled 47 saves through regulation but, in a bizarre twist, was replaced by backup Dany Sabourin at the start of the first overtime period.
"That wasn't the ideal situation to be put in," Vigneault said. "He found out three to four minutes before that something was wrong."
Luongo remained in the dressing room, prompting speculation that he might be injured, only to hastily emerge at the 3:34 mark and return to the net.
"We had some equipment issues that had to be addressed, and it took a little bit longer than we expected," Canucks assistant coach Rick Bowness told CBC Sports.
In Luongo's absence, the Ducks peppered Sabourin with five challenging shots.
"We tried to get one in there as fast as we could, because Luongo was stopping everything," Rob Niedermayer said. "And to see him come back in was kind of a downer."
Luongo, a finalist for the Hart and Vezina trophies as the NHL's most valuable player and top goaltender, respectively, faced an astonishing 427 shots in 12 starts this post-season.
"He is the foundation that we are going to build on," Vigneault said. "He has got the culture that [we] want, the passion and the work ethic."
Burrows scores on lone shot
Alex Burrows had one shot in the contest, but made it count as he scored his first playoff goal for the third-ranked Canucks, who set franchise records for wins (49) and points (105) in Vigneault's first season as head coach.
Vigneault's efforts earned him a second nomination for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.
"Their coach gave them every opportunity with the gameplan that he had in place," Carlyle said.
Vigneault succeeded Carlyle as head coach of the Manitoba Moose, Vancouver's AHL affiliate, on Aug. 1, 2005, and was promoted to head coach of the Canucks last June 20.
Sammy Pahlsson scored in regulation and Jean-Sebastien Giguere posted 26 saves for the second-seeded Ducks.
Giguere, winner of the 2003 Conn Smythe Trophy as top playoff performer, shared the goaltending duties with Ilya Bryzgalov in the first round, but has risen to the top of the overall rankings with a 1.42 goals-against average and .950 save percentage.
"We needed that win," Giguere said. "We didn't want to go back to Vancouver again."
Anaheim limited the Canucks to eight goals in five games, thanks in large part to defensive stalwarts Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer.
Both were named finalists for the Norris Trophy, marking just the third time in almost 40 years that teammates were nominated as the league's premier defenceman.
The others were Bobby Orr and Ted Green of the Boston Bruins (1969) and Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios of the Detroit Red Wings (2002).
The Sedin twins were key offensive cogs for the Canucks, combining for 46 goals, 165 points and a plus 38-rating this season.
But they struggled mightily in the playoffs, combining for nine points in 12 games and a minus-11 rating.
"I don't think we did a good enough job," Daniel Sedin said. "Our job is to score.
"It was in the regular season. It was the same in the playoffs."
Ducks in full flight early
Vancouver had prided itself on strong starts in the previous games, but Anaheim tested Luongo with several difficult shots in the first period.
Luongo was equal to the task, smothering a shot from the slot by Rob Niedermayer and making consecutive left-pad saves on two Pronger slapshots during a power play.
Luongo later blocked Dustin Penner's dangerous backhand shot, then Sean O'Donnell on a breakaway to keep it scoreless through one.
Anaheim outshot Vancouver 20-6 in the period.
"If not for [Luongo] playing his best game of the year, the game is over in the first period," Vigneault said.
Pahlsson staked the Ducks to a 1-0 lead on a controversial goal just 14 seconds into the third period.
Rob Niedermayer carried the puck behind the net and worked his way out front, only to be denied by Luongo.
Luongo looked to have frozen the puck with his trapper, but Travis Moen kept digging for it with his stick and poked it loose to Pahlsson, who fired it through the crowd in the crease for his first goal of the playoffs.
"That was blatant goaltender interference," Vigneault said.
About four minutes later, Cory Perry and Francois Beauchemin were penalized 29 seconds apart and the two-man advantage seemed to spark the Canucks.
But Sami Salo rang a shot off the crossbar and Giguere foiled Henrik Sedin at the lip of the crease to preserve the 1-0 lead.
The Canucks were forced to kill penalties in the final three minutes of the period, but Luongo kept them in contention with a savvy pad save on Scott Niedermayer and later snared two slapshots off the stick of Ryan Getzlaf.
Luongo's fine play carried over into the third period as he got a pad on Pahlsson's backhand shot in the opening minute.
Likewise, Giguere looked equally sharp in kicking aside Mattias Ohlund's quick shot with the teams skating 4-on-4.
Despite being badly outplayed, the Canucks tied it 1-1 when Burrows buried a rebound with 9:57 remaining in regulation.
Burrows controlled the puck to Giguere's right and set up Josh Green in the slot for the initial shot before skating in front to flip home the rebound.
"Each game had its momentum swings and we were fortunate to come out on the right side of the close games," Carlyle said. "We were in a heck of a series against a really good hockey club."
Vancouver has trailed 3-1 in a series seven times in franchise history, and rallied to take three of them, staging successful comebacks versus the Winnipeg Jets (1992), Calgary Flames (1994) and St. Louis Blues (2003).
With files from Sports Network