Last spring the Vancouver Canucks took us on an amazing roller coaster ride with many unforgettable highs and lows. After a long and hockey-less summer it's easy to forget that only a little more than two months ago our 'Nucks were just one win away from the ultimate prize in hockey.
With the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Vancouver Canucks magical run to the finals a seemingly distant memory, fans can't help but look ahead to the upcoming season. But before we do that, let's take a look back at the top six most memorable goals from that great two months of hockey.
Boston at Vancouver in Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. After 59 minutes and 42 seconds of scoreless hockey, Raffi Torres takes a cross seam pass from speedy Danish winger Jannik Hansen and taps the puck into the open side of the net. This goal gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the game, and ultimately the series. Although Raffi has since moved on to the Phoenix Coyotes organization, we will always have this moment to remember him by.
Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Vancouver leads the series 1-0 and is at home again looking to take a 2-0 series lead. Earlier in the game, Alex Burrows was accused of biting Boston forward Patrice Bergeron's finger while he was giving Burrows a face-wash. Burrows received no penalty (or supplementary discipline, but that had no effect on the outcome of this particular game) on the play which made it hurt even more when he scored the winner in OT. Right of the opening faceoff Burrows grabs a hold of the loose puck, beats Boston captain Zdeno Chara to the outside, flies by the sprawling Tim Thomas, goes around the net and deposits the puck into the empty net.
Boston at Vancouver for Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Series all knotted up at 2 a piece. Kevin Bieksa's intentionally wide shot hits the boards and goes right to Maxim Lapierre, catching Bruin's goalie Tim Thomas totally off guard. Lapierre would fire it into the gaping net to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead. That goal would be enough to win the game and give Vancouver a 3-2 lead in the series.
Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Ryan Kesler dangles through the Predators defense to score a highlight-reel goal that would also be the eventual game winner. This goal is all the more impressive when you consider that one of the defensemen that Kesler beats 1 on 1 was Norris trophy finalist and Nashville's captain Shea Webber. This goal is the epitome of Kesler's series against the Predators, as he carried the Canucks through this entire series and looked almost super-human in the process.
San Jose at Vancouver in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. Double overtime. In an attempt to send the puck along the glass and around the boards, Canucks defenseman Alex Edler accidentally hits Canucks captain Henrik Sedin in the back of the head. Of course nobody knows that this has happened, and everyone is looking around wondering where the puck went. That is, everyone except Canucks defenseman and alternate captain Kevin Bieksa.
In the midst of the confusion, Bieksa sends a "knuckle puck" at the net. The puck skips along the ice a few times before bouncing past Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi and sending Vancouver to it's first Stanley Cup Final since 1994.
Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. Chicago at Vancouver. The Vancouver Canucks had been eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks the last two seasons and were facing them in a playoff series for a third straight year. After going down 3-0 in the series, Chicago had won the next 3 games to force a deciding game 7.
The Canucks went up 1-0 early in the game but Chicago scored late in the third to force the game into sudden death overtime. The next goal won the series. After Roberto Luongo absolutely robbed Patrick Sharp during a Blackhawks' OT power-play it was Vancouver's turn. Alex Burrows leaped up and caught a Chris Campoli clearing attempt, then slapped the rolling puck top corner passed rookie goalie Corey Crawford to win the series for Vancouver.