The Vancouver Canucks are the first team to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and they made a little history in doing so.
Alex Burrows scored his second of the game with 19 seconds left in the first period of overtime as the Canucks defeated the hometown St. Louis Blues 3-2 in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarter-final on Tuesday.
Burrows came down the right wing in the dying seconds of OT and put one through goaltender Chris Mason's legs for the win. The 28-year-old from Pincourt, Que., was quickly mobbed by his teammates after the goal.
"I think Willie [Mitchell] just made a great play to get it up [the ice], and I just wanted to try and get it on net," Burrows told Scott Oake of Hockey Night in Canada.
With the win, Vancouver swept the Blues right out of the playoffs, taking the series 4-0. It marked the first time in franchise history the Canucks have accomplished that feat.
"I think we just found a way every game, I think [goalie] Roberto [Luongo] played unbelievable for us, and all 20 guys did a great job," Burrows said.
"Now we'll be able to relax and get ready for the second round."
Luongo was outstanding in the game, as he was in the entire series. He stopped 47 of 49 Blues shots, and 126 of 131 in the series.
"I don't know, there's a little ways to go here. I'll let you know in a few weeks," Luongo said after Oake asked him whether this was the best he's ever played in his career.
Scary situation in second
The Canucks thought they had lost Luongo late in the second period when he seemed to strain something as he stretched to keep the go-ahead-goal out of the net while St. Louis players crashed his crease. He was down for a while but looked no worse for wear afterward.
"We have a few guys banged up," Luongo said. "It's good that we're going to get the rest now and heal up and make sure we're ready to go when the next round starts."
Not to be outdone, St. Louis's Mason was just as solid in the losing effort, stopping 32 shots himself.
"I just lost [the puck] for a second, and I didn't close [my legs] up quick enough," Mason said of Burrows's OT winner.
"It just slipped through."
Vancouver's Kyle Wellwood, along with the Blues' Brad Boyes and David Perron, scored the other goals in regulation.
St. Louis made a strong effort to keep the series going in front of its home crowd, especially in the last half of the game, but couldn't break through to gain the lead. The Blues out-shot the Canucks 49-36.
Vancouver's penalty-killing is one of the main reasons the team is heading into the second round after only four games. The Canucks held the eighth-best power play in the regular season to a single goal in the series, killing off 23 of 24 St. Louis man-advantages.
"The one thing that killed us in the series is our power play," Blues forward Keith Tkachuk said. "We had opportunities throughout the series and we didn't capitalize.
"You've got to bring it up a notch, and we didn't do that."
Two big penalty-kills in OT
But none was bigger than the two penalties Vancouver survived in overtime. Daniel Sedin took a hooking penalty at 6:22 and Ryan Kesler took a four-minute high-sticking penalty at 10:36, but both were killed off thanks to stellar play from Luongo.
Canuck forward Mats Sundin sat out Tuesday's game as he was still suffering from a lower-body injury. He also missed Game 3 on Sunday. Defenceman Sami Salo also missed Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury. Ossi Vaananen took his spot in the lineup.
Vancouver grabbed the lead at 5:20 of the first period, right after a glorious Blues scoring chance went by the wayside.
St. Louis forward Andy McDonald couldn't slide one home with Luongo sprawling, and the puck went back into the Blues zone.
And that's where St. Louis defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo made a terrible giveaway in his own end, as his pass was intercepted Canucks forward Wellwood, who danced in alone on net and deked out netminder Mason for his first goal of the playoffs.
Edler makes save
Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler helped his goalie out when he stopped a B.J. Crombeen shot on the Canucks goal-line halfway through the first. The attempt went through Luongo, but Edler blocked the puck with his skate.
The shots were almost even in the first, with St. Louis holding a 9-8 edge.
Early in the second frame, Blues goalie Mason made a big save to keep his squad within one. Henrik Sedin one-timed a pass on a two-on-one, but Mason slid across to make the pad save.
But he couldn't stop an Burrows tip-in at 9:23, when he perfectly redirected a Shane O'Brien point shot for his second of the playoffs to put Vancouver up by two.
St. Louis comes back
The Blues were held in check until 13:30 of the second, when forward Boyes took a shot and fired his own rebound into the back of the cage, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
The goal brought the almost-comatose Scottrade Center back to life.
And then the crowd nearly brought the house down at 16:54 as their Blues tied the game.
St. Louis's McDonald took a shot on Luongo and the other two Blues forwards crashed the net. Perron ended up with the loose puck in the crease and fired it into the net to tie the game 2-2.
The St. Louis wagons were circling as the Blues buzzed around the Vancouver net for the rest of the frame.
Lucky to escape
The Canucks were lucky to escape the second period with the tie (and their goaltender intact), as St. Louis again crashed the net with around two minutes remaining.
On the replay the puck clearly went past the goal-line, but referee Marc Joannette disallowed the goal, saying he intended to blow the whistle before the puck went in the net even though the whistle sounded after it crossed the line.
"He meant to blow the whistle," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. "He never did, but the rules say that's enough."
The Blues out-shot the Canucks 12-8 in the second.
In the third, both teams had chances to grab the lead, but big saves by both netminders kept the game deadlocked.
With 6½ minutes to go, Vancouver's Steve Bernier and Mason Raymond found themselves all alone in front of the St. Louis goal with a loose puck staring them in the face, but neither could score as goalie Mason redirected the disc over the boards.
Not to be outdone, Luongo made a couple dazzlers in the Canuck crease, robbing McDonald with his glove as the Blues winger one-timed a shot near the top of the left circle, and stoning Perron on a couple chances near the three-minute mark.
St. Louis out-shot Vancouver 34-27 in regulation time.
The Canucks had a huge chance early in overtime to end the game on a three-on-one, but a Jannik Hansen slapshot hit the crossbar at around the two-minute mark.
Other than that, it was all Blues, as they out-shot Vancouver 10-1 through the first 10 minutes of overtime and 18-9 overall in the period before Burrows's goal.
Colaiacovo took a roughing penalty at 14:41 of overtime for punching Burrows in the Blues crease.