News from May 1994
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GAME ONE - at Dallas Stars
Vancouver Canucks assistant coach Ron Smith, who also happened to be an assistant with the Canucks in their 1982 run, noted after the series with Calgary, "Even when we were down, I felt something was going to happen. It's almost metaphysical, something cosmic. It reminded me of '82 when we had a patched up defense and everything still fell into place. You have to work hard, but at some point something else takes over."
Only two days after defeating Calgary in the seventh game, the Canucks were in Dallas to meet the Stars. Seeing as Dallas finished with 97 points, the Stars had home ice advantage and the Canucks were forced to go to Texas for Games One and Two. Whereas the Calgary-Vancouver series stretched a full seven games, the Stars had swept the St. Louis Blues in four straight. During the playoffs, the NHL introduced a new home-road format, featuring 2-3-2 in order to reduce the jet lag on the players. The home team opens with Game One and Two, and the road team would play Games Three through Five on their home ice. The series would then return to the opening city for the final two games.
Whereas the Vancouver Canucks played a run and gun, open style based on offense, the Dallas Stars were well known for their conservative and defensive game style. Many of the critics expected this series to be a clinic on low scoring, and many would be surprised.
In the first game of the series, it looked as if Vancouver was going to cruise through the game without having to reapply their deodorant. Murray Craven potted his first goal of the playoff season to put the Canucks up by one, and then Geoff Courtnall scored his 5th to put the Vancouver squad up 2-0. Paul Broten replied for the Dallas Stars, but the Canucks immediately answered back with two more, from Bure and Jyrki Lumme. Dallas goaltender Darcy Wakaluk was playing as shaky as a pooch coming inside out of the rain. Vancouver decided that instead of walking away with the victory without breaking a sweat, they would make it interesting. In true nail gnawing fashion, the Canucks collapsed. Richard Matvichuk scored, and George McPhee added two of his own, and the hometown team tied the game up at 4-4. The game was slipping through the Canuck's fingers, but just when it was looking grim for them, Nathan Lafayette won the draw in the Stars zone, and Martin Gelinas snapped a quick wrist-shot-squeeker through the pads of Darcy Wakaluk. Trevor Linden would add an empty netter for his 5th of the playoffs, sealing the deal at 6-4 for Vancouver. "The puck just came to me, and I just shot and never saw it go in the net," Gelinas said. "It was a good dig by Nate."
GAME TWO - at Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars were not happy with the play of Darcy Wakaluk, and opted to go to the services of Andy Moog. In Game Two, the Canucks pulled off a defense not usually seen by a Vancouver crowd. Cliff Ronning got the Canucks on the board with his third goal of the playoffs. Pavel Bure had been subject to several cheap shots during the course of the game that went unpenalized, received a cross check from Craig Ludwig. When he was knocked to his knees, Bure received a whallop from Dallas tough guy Shane Churla. Referee Andy Van Hellemond did not see the cross check or the punch from Churla, so Pavel Bure took things into his own hands; or shall we say took things into his own elbow. Bure leveled Churla with a wild elbow to his jaw. It knocked some real sense into the tough guy. Amazingly, Van Hellemond missed the foul, again. Although this game will surely be remembered for Bure's elbow, it was also Bure's hands that were great on this night. Pavel would score two goals on this night, and his second was a really beauty. With 20 seconds left in the second period, he weaved around defenseman Derian Hatcher, cut to the net and wired a shot over top of Moog. The Canucks won the game by a 3-0 margin. After the game, Cliff Ronning spoke of Bure in the game, saying "He is like a rattlesnake around the goal. You give him a second and it's in. He amazes me, he's so quick." Trevor Linden later called Bure's effort " the best game Bure has ever layed."
Kirk McLean also had a helluva game, recording a shutout with 39 saves.
Pavel Bure was given a suspension for his hit, but NHL vice president Brian Burke fined him $500 for the check. Shane Churla said after the game, "If it was the other way around, I'd be gone for 15 game at least. People would be calling me the biggest goon in hockey."
Pat Quinn, never one to sit idle, replied, "As far as throwing stones, it's crap. Any human in the world would take a swing back at someone who was trying to hurt him. This kid has taken a pounding from Calgary and now these guys. It's almost like the referees want to see the Russian get beat up. Let's put the focus where it belongs. Why isn't the focus on the guys beating the crap out of him?"
GAME THREE - at Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks were now headed back to their home ice up two games to none.
With the special 2-3-2 format, they would be playing 3 straight games at home. The media predicted that Game Three would include heaps of retaliation from the Stars, but it was surprisingly absent, and the two teams went straight to playing hockey. Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure scored to put the Canucks up 2-0, but Dallas applied heaps of pressure and scored four straight, two in the first, two in the second, including two by Neil Broten. When the Dallas Stars took the lead, they applied their mastermind defensive plan. The Canucks mustered one more goal from Trevor Linden in the third to make the score 4-3, but that is how the game would end.
GAME FOUR - at Vancouver Canucks
Trevor Linden would open the scoring for the Canucks for his 7th of the playoffs from Bure and Adams, to put the home team up 1-0 in the first. Brent Gilchrist would reply for Dallas squad to tie up the game at 1-1.
The game turned out to be a real tight checking affair. McLean and Andy Moog proved to be human ice paks after the game as they were unbeatable. McLean denied Paul Broten two times, and Moog had a dazzling save on a backhander from Martin Gelinas and a bullet from Pavel Bure, which deflected off his goal mask.
Late in the third period, Bure scored for the Canucks in the late seconds of the eighteenth minute. However, video replay revealed that Bure had knocked the net off it's moorings before the puck went in. The game was headed for overtime.
Sergio Momesso, who was chained by the neck in Mr. Quinn's doghouse, broke free off his chains. Sergio took a blind swipe from point blank and the puck found the back of the net. The Canucks were now in control, up 3-1 in the series.
GAME FIVE - at Vancouver Canucks
Not wanting to go back to Dallas, Texas, the Canucks went to the office early.
Lafayette would open up the score for the Vancouver Canucks, and then Pavel Bure scored his 8th to put the home team up by a 2-0 margin.
Mike Modano replied for the in-too-deep Stars to make it 2-1. Murray Craven would add his 2nd goal of the playoffs, and Bure added a dazzling 9th.
Dave Gagner attempted a comeback with his 5th of the playoffs, but it was two-too-little, too late. The Canucks could now sit back in their LA-Z-BOYS and watch the San Jose Sharks and the Toronto Maple Leafs duke it out in a seventh game.
May:16 - GAME ONE - at Toronto Maple Leafs
It was a match made in heaven. Lotusland versus Hogtown. The San Jose Sharks were eliminated by the Toronto "Centre of the Universe" Maple Leafs in the seventh game, so Vancouver drew their Eastern rivals. There was truly little rivalry between the two teams; the last time they had met was in the 1922 playoffs, when Vancouver was still the Millionaires, and Toronto was the St. Pats. But still, all of Canada was watching. Rosie DiManno of The Toronto Star and Denny Boyd of The Vancouver Sun had an old brouhaha of words in the papers. DiManno described Vancouver as a "blonde bimbo" of a town. Both newspapers ran Why I Hate Vancouver/Toronto contests.
Being that the Leafs played in the Western Conference despite being in the outermost East, there was a bit of travelling to do. 3000 miles seperated the two cities. The Eastern Conference finalists, New Jersey and New York, had only a 30 minute bus ride between the two arenas.
Toronto had finished the season with 98 points compared to Vancouver's 85, so the Maple Leafs took the home ice advantage for the opening two games. Their main trouble behind solving Kirk McLean, would be to contain the Adams-Linden-Bure tandem. The line had already produced 19 goals in the Canucks playoff season, 46% of the Canucks total 41 goals vs. Dallas and Calgary. Maple Leafs coach Pat Burns decided to counter the Linden unit with Peter Zezel, Bill Berg and Mark Osborne.
The crowd of Maple Leaf Gardens was whooping it up before Game One; their team had been eliminated by Wayne Gretzky the year before, and they feared the same result in this season. Dave Andreychuk, whose 53 goals led the Toronto club during the season, notched his 5th goal of the playoffs to put the Leafs up 1-0. Dave Babych countered for the Canucks, but the man of the night was Peter Zezel, who scored his first of two goals to put his team up 2-1.
The people of Vancouver were truly paranoid (for good reason) that everyone at Hockey Night in Canada and the NHL favoured the victory of the Maple Leafs. Referee Dan Marouelli had waved off a Vancouver goal earlier in the game that video replay proved to enter the net. Later in the contest, Leaf defender Jamie Macoun went unpenalized for a foul. Tom Larscheid, always enthusiastic about the game, accidentally shouted "Bullshit!" into the CKNW microphone. Hockey Night in Canada's analyst Bob Cole had problems with the Canucks roster, constantly confusing Canucks forwards Nathan Lafayette and John McIntyre.
The Leafs applied their tight defensive game until 18:18 of the third period, when veteran Mike Gartner was given a holding penalty. The Canucks proceeded to pull Kirk McLean to give them a two man advantage for the remaining time. With the net open and McLean headed to the bench, Kirk found the Leafs take control of the puck, and McLean had to turn around and check the Leaf player on the rush, in the neutral zone to prevent an easy empty net goal for the Leafs. With only 30 seconds left in the game, Trevor Linden plowed through the Maple Leafs' defense corp and beat Toronto goaltender Felix Potvin with a backhand shot. Maple Leaf Gardens was in shock. The game was headed to overtime.
The odds were in the Canucks favour going into the extra frame. Vancouver had played 4 games in overtime thus far, and had won them all. Early in the overtime period, Pavel Bure had a good chance to end it for his club, but Potvin stoned him. Minutes later, goaltender Kirk McLean skated out to play a dump in by Mark Osborne, but could not get the puck out of the zone. Peter Zezel was waiting along the boards and flipped the puck into the open, yawning cage. The Leafs had taken Game One 3-2 in overtime.
May:18 - GAME TWO - at Toronto Maple Leafs
With the Leafs leading the series, the Canucks wanted to douce all of Toronto's hope for a win again. Pavel Bure played like he was possessed on this night, firing 7 shots at goalie Felix Potvin, and scoring his 10th of the postseason to put Vancouver up 1-0. As well, Bure had an interesting play in the early stages of the first period of play. Behind the Leaf net, he flipped the puck overtop of Potvin's head, and then proceeded to go to the front of the crease and bat the puck out of the air. It didn't produce a goal, but a classic Pavel Bure play nonetheless.
Down 1-0, the Leafs scored two, both coming from defender Dmitri Mironov. The Leafs then took an undisciplined penalty, and Jeff Brown, teed it up, and blew a low point drive past Potvin. And following Brown's goal, Murray Craven notched his 3rd of the playoffs. Then, in the third period, it was the Canucks who took the penalty. Leaf defenseman Dave Ellet would score on the ensuing power play to tie the game at 3-3. The Leafs then took another penalty, this time the goat being Jamie Macoun, who mauled Cliff Ronning to the ice. On the power play, Jyrki Lumme took a pass from Trevor linden, who was positioned along the boards, drifted into the slot and whistled a rising snap shot into the twine. The goal won the game for the Canucks, 4-3.
Somehow, through the dim created by 16,000 screaming fans, the distinctive switching sound of two cuts by the skates of Pavel Bure were clearly audible. In a flash, Bure snared a loose puck behind the Maple Leaf net, moved to clear ice, then snapped the puck to a team-mate. Two passes later, Jyrki Lumme deposited a wrist shot through a screen to give the Vancouver Canucks the winning goal in a 4-3 Victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference final.
While Bure's original play was almost forgotten, it was the most subtle of a series of magical moves on a brilliant night for the Russian Rocket . While the most gifted players on both sides have found the going unbearably tough in the series so far, Bure's sheer elegance and imagination shone through in last night's contest, as his emergence as a committed playoff performer continues.
He ended up with a goal and an assist, plus another 7 shots that didn't get past Toronto goalie Felix Potvin, as the Leafs were all but powerless to stop him.
At times it seemed that Bure was inventing moves almost out of boredom. In the first period, he skated with the puck behind the Leaf net, flipped it over the head of Potvin while zipping past Sylvain Lefebvre, then narrowly missed swatting the puck at the Leaf net the moment it hit the ice. "I've tried it a few times, but this is the playoffs," Bure said. "It is my kind of style to play like this. If I get the chance to do something fancy, I do it."
Later in the period, he did connect on a singularly spectacular move, intercepting Dmitri Mironov's clearing attempt along the boards with his right hand and moving it in one motion toward the middle of the ice, then swerving around a sprawling Dave Ellett to shoot it in the top right corner of the net.
"The things he does aren't so much tricks, they're plays," Canucks head coach Pat Quinn said. "Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. He's a creative guy, and he has a lot of weapons in his arsenal."
While there were a half-dozen other offensive moves by Bure worth documenting, it was the other elements of his game in evidence last night that indicate a transition from offensive dynamo to two-way player. In the first period, he hammered Leaf defenceman Jamie Macoun with a clean, open-ice belt, one of the several bodychecks he handed out on the night.
Also, with the Canucks defending their one-goal lead in the final minute against a Leaf team that had pulled its goalie, there was Bure on the ice in a defensive posture, hounding centre Doug Gilmour. "I don't always use him that way," Quinn said with a smile. "It was just a hunch tonight. He's done it from time to time. I thought quickness was going to be an element, and he did get the puck a couple of times."
May:20 - GAME THREE - at Vancouver Canucks
Midway through the first period of Game Three, the Canucks took two foolish penalties, and gave the Leafs a two man advantage for one minute and a half. The Leafs would not score on the advantage, and it would stand up as the turning point of the game. Later, Pavel Bure intercepted a Bob Rouse pass intended for Todd Gill, and skated in on a breakaway. Bure wasted no time and blew the puck past Felix Potvin's glove hand. Greg Adams, would score his 3rd of the playoffs at 4:56 of the second period to make the score 2-0, but the Canucks weren't finished. There were five minutes left to play in the third period when Murray Craven blocked a Dave Ellet shot and chipped the puck up to Bure. He flew to the net on his second breakaway of the game, and slotted the puck between the pads of Potvin. The Leafs would end up taking a penalty in frustration; they could not solve Kirk McLean. On the resulting power play, Martin Gelinas scored his 4th to close the win at 4-0.
The two stories of the game were Pavel Bure and goaltender Kirk McLean. Kirk McLean had recorded his 4th shutout of the playoffs, making 29 saves. Pavel had notched two breakaway goals to make his total to 12. He was now silencing the critics who believed he was a playoff burn out, or as some put it, a "soft player". One theory behind his poor play in the 1992 and 1993 playoffs, and early in the Calgary series, was that Europeans were not motivated for the Stanley Cup, as it was not their childhood dream. Bure was silencing the story seeking journalists/piranhas, and zipped the writers' mouth shut. Pat Burns said after, "We had our scoring chances and we got beat by Bure's speed. He is a quick guy, and when he gets in that second or third gear, he is a hard guy to catch. He's a helluva player on a helluva roll."
May:22 - GAME FOUR - at Vancouver Canucks
Game Four proved to be a very tight, claustrophobic and defensive affair. Through the first two periods, there were no goals scored. Kirk McLean and Felix Potvin are ice cool under the pressure, with Potvin saving 11, and McLean turning aside 20 Maple Leaf shots through two periods. Denny Boyd of The Vancouver Sun described the Leafs top player who was ineffective all series, Doug Gilmour, as "...totally miserable. He looks as ground and chewed down as a sparerib bone."
At the eighteenth minute mark of the third period, Cliff Ronning was a man on a mission. Ronning broke away from a check and began a two on one with linemate Sergio Momesso. Cliffie made absolutely no mistake, putting the Canucks in the lead. Bure would add an empty netter at 19:27 to seal the 2-0 victory.
May:24 - GAME FIVE - at Toronto Maple Leafs
Canucks have the strangle hold on the Leafs, and Toronto is desperate to beat Kirk McLean.
McLean's shutout streak finally ends at 143 minutes and 17 seconds when Mike Eastwood notches his third of the playoffs at 7:54 of the first period. Toronto, inspired by their luck to finally beat Captain Kirk, get two more goals, one from Doug Gilmour, and one from Wendel Clark. The goals give the Hogtown Leafs the 3-0 lead.
In the second period, with truly inspired play, Vancouver bounced back, getting goals from Murray Craven, Nathan Lafayette and Greg Adams to tie the game up at 3-3. Felix Potvin and Kirk McLean, despite giving up 6 between them in the first two periods, are suddenly remarkable and unbeatable. The game goes to overtime.
McLean and Potvin are still remarkable and unbeatable. The game goes to a second overtime.
Seconds after the puck is dropped at centre ice, Greg Adams causes a turnover and feeds Linden, who carries the biscuit into the Leaf zone. Linden, positioned along the left boards, throws the puck to pointman Dave Babych, who wires a shot through a crowd. Goaltender Felix Potvin makes the initial glove hand save, but the rebound goes to Greg Adams, who is on the doorstep and escapes the check of Dave Andreychuk and knifes a backhander into the back of the net.
The Vancouver Canucks are in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Adams, who had only 13 goals during the season, happily said later, "That's the biggest goal I've ever scored in my career. The playoffs have been a whole new season. It's a brand new start, a chance to redeem yourself."