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Special Win for Vancouver: Canucks Edge Blues in Penalty Filled Game

Joel LefevreAnalyst IApril 16, 2009

An electric atmosphere at GM Place appeared to get the better of both teams in a game filled with penalties on both sides.  However with the game called so tightly by the officials that was supposed to be the edge St. Louis needed as they finished the season third in the league in penalty killing and in the top ten also on the power play. 

But this is the playoffs and it's the time of the year where stats are meaningless.  No better proof of that then Wednesday's opener at GM Place in the Canucks 2-1 victory over the Blues in game one of their Western Conference Quarterfinal.

Vancouver came in fired up thanks to a delirious crowd at GM Place.  Halfway through the first period the fans were rewarded when Daniel Sedin deflected a slap pass from Pavol Demitra on a delayed penalty to put the Canucks ahead 1-0.

Roberto Luongo took over the rest of the way in the period as he was terrific on a Blues lengthy five on three later in the first, making an incredible stop on Andy McDonald on the doorstep, along with Ryan Kesler sacrificing himself on a point blank shot the Canucks escaped the period with the one goal lead. 

The great kill appeared to give them a big spark, as they finished the period with alot of intensity in their game. 

The Canucks built off that in the second and converted a beautiful power play goal as Henirk put his soccer skills on display after losing his stick he kicked the puck to brother Daniel who made a backhanded pass to Sami Salo who wired a one timer top shelf to put the Canucks up 2-0. 

Late in the period St. Louis finally converted after six unsuccessful power play Brad Boyes scored on an open net to put St. Louis close going into the third.  However the Canucks did not appear to be flustered as they entered the third still comfortable and never really looked in danger of giving up the tying goal until the final few seconds of the game. 

The Canucks who you thought would have bottled things up in the third came out firing as they out-shot the Blues 15-6 in the third to take a 1-0 series lead. 

Daniel Sedin who vowed to be better in the playoffs was satisfied afterwards with his opening game performance, "That's the way we have to play," said Daniel Sedin, who had a goal and an assist.

"We learned at the end of the regular season how to play in close games."

Roberto Luongo was outstanding stopping 25 shots as he has only allowed one goal in his last nine periods of action.  "I just try to make every save, that's my job," said Luongo. "When I can make those saves it's nice and sometimes momentum swings for us." 

At the other end Chris Mason who has been red hot down the stretch was just as good as his counterpart in this one stopping 29 shots in total, many in the third to keep the Blues in the game.  "They defended the lead pretty good by putting pressure on us," said Mason, who made 29 saves. "We didn't get the result but it's going to be a war." 

Head Coach Alain Vigneault was pleased with the teams performance but believes there has to be improvements,

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"We took quite a few penalties in the first period but I don't think we were undisciplined," said coach Alain Vigneault. "The penalties gave them quite a few qualify chances. Our goaltender kept us in.

"Five-on-five, I thought we got better as the game went on. We played a really strong third period. We are going to need to get better because that team has a lot of speed and skill."

So game one in the books and the Canucks hold serve for the time being, with game two set for Friday at GM Place as the Canucks look to keep home ice advantage. 

Something to watch could be a possible return for Paul Kariya, the Blues winger has been out most of the year but has been skating and could potentially draw into the lineup later in the series. 

If the game is any indication fans better fasten their seat belts as it could be quite a nail biter the rest of the way.

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