Nobody wanted to leave Rogers Arena.
With an estimated 100,000 Vancouver Canucks roaming the downtown core, watching Game 2 of the Stanley final either on giant outdoor televisions or inside their favourite haunts, Alex Burrows ignited one heck of a party with his game-winner in overtime.
But instead of joining the wild scene outside, the appreciative capacity crowd of 18,860 inside the rink stood and loudly saluted the Canucks for their 3-2 come-from-behind and 2-0 series lead over the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
"We want the Cup, we want the Cup, we want the Cup," was the chant.
Emotions already were high with the return of Manny Malhotra after a serious left eye injury kept his hockey future in doubt for 2½ months. So Burrows made sure it was an evening to remember when he fought off Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and circled behind the net to beat goalie Tim Thomas with a wraparound goal.
The gritty Burrows displayed the sort of skill and patience of his productive linemates, Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
"From the face-off Daniel made a perfect play to chip the puck to the middle," Burrows said. "We know [Thomas] is aggressive so I just tried to be patient. I haven’t seen the replay, but I think I lost the puck but got it back to score."
It was another chapter in Burrows' remarkable story. Many thought he should have been suspended for biting the gloved index finger of Boston forward Patrice Bergeron in the series opener on Wednesday.
But the league deemed the incident unintentional, and Burrows made sure the talk about him was for his offensive exploits rather than his agitator abilities. He also put the Canucks ahead 1-0 on the power play in the first period and set up Daniel Sedin with the tying goal midway through the third period.
"I’ve played with him for a long time and I have watched him grow," said Kesler, who was a teammate of Burrows with the Manitoba Moose back during the 2004-05 lockout season. "He’s an unbelievable story. Some players just have a knack and he’s one of them."
Burrows was never drafted. He didn’t play junior until age 19 and had to settle for the deep minor pro depths of the East Coast Hockey League to continue playing. His first contract was worth a salary of $28,000 US and he had to work at a landscaping job in the summer for more coin.
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He eventually worked his way through the minor pro ranks to land a job with the Canucks thanks mainly to Moose general manager Craig Heisinger, who many believe will get a chance to manage the new yet-to-be-named NHL entry in Winnipeg. It was Heisinger who saw something in Burrows and signed him.
The Canucks just happened to be the Moose’s affiliate and reaped the benefits later as Burrows, who now earns $2-million a season, became a perfect right wing for the Sedin twins.
This was the Bruins first loss in overtime this postseason after four victories in extra time. The Canucks, however, have gone 10-4 in one-goal games in this playoff run.
Boston took a 2-1 lead with goals from Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi 2:35 apart midway through the second period.
Recchi’s tip of a Chara shot was on the power play. At 43, he became the oldest player to score in the final, passing a 41-year-old Igor Larionov who scored in the 2002 final.
The Canucks stated that despite trailing for the first time in the series, they were calm in the dressing room in the second intermission because of how well they had played in the final 20 minutes of regulation time. They have outscored the opposition 21-16 in the third period this spring.
"We’ve been in a situation like this before. We‘ve owned the third period all year long," said Burrows, who scored the overtime winner to clinch the first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks and now has nine goals to tie with Daniel Sedin for the team lead.