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If Roberto Luongo was eager to gain some playoff experience, he got much more than he could've hoped for in his postseason debut.
Luongo and the Canucks look to build on a four-overtime victory when they host the Dallas Stars on Friday night in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
One of the questions heading into this series was whether Luongo could play as well in the playoffs as he did during an outstanding 47-win regular season. Thursday's series opener was his first taste of postseason hockey after making 417 appearances over seven seasons with the New York Islanders, Florida and Vancouver.
Luongo wasn't spectacular during regulation, allowing four goals on 40 shots, including two scores just over five minutes apart in the third period that forced overtime. He was, however, the main reason teammate Henrik Sedin was able to give the Canucks a 5-4 victory with 1:54 left in the fourth overtime in the sixth-longest game in NHL history.
"It was a strange game," Sedin said. "Personally, I felt better the longer the game went. I got my legs going in the fifth and sixth period."
Luongo stopped all 36 shots after regulation and finished with 72 saves, one short of Kelly Hrudey's playoff record. Luongo did set the record for saves in a playoff debut and shattered Kirk McLean's franchise postseason record of 52 saves, set in Game 1 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals.
"I got all the experience I needed in one game," Luongo said. "I think everybody was exhausted. It's a hard game to play. Guys were battling the whole time and trying not to make mistakes."
Sedin's goal was even more important because Vancouver squandered a two-goal lead in the third period. Veteran Trevor Linden, who turned 37 Wednesday, said a loss would have been devastating.
"It would have been very difficult to lose this game," Linden said. "To be up two and let that go, to lose would have been a bitter pill to swallow. It's nice we got the win and can move on."
Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who had a goal and an assist, admitted his team was frustrated by the loss after outshooting the Canucks 76-56 and dominating most of the overtime periods.
"I'd be lying if I said we weren't disappointed to not get the win," he said. "You have to think about it, park it, forget about it and move on. We're not hanging our heads. It's a long series. It's going to take four wins and we're not the type of team that's going to quit after losing one hockey game."
The playoffs remained unkind to Dallas netminder Marty Turco, who dropped to 2-9 in his last 11 postseason games despite stopping 51 shots. Turco has lost five consecutive overtime playoff contests.
"It's really disappointing right now," Turco said. "It's frustrating but I'm sure we'll turn it into a positive, too. We just have to find a way to get more pucks ... and sustain the pressure down there even more."
Dallas lost the opening game for the sixth straight playoff series, dating to the first round of the 2001 postseason. The Stars lost three overtime games in last season's first-round loss to Colorado and are 1-8 in their last nine postseason contests that reached overtime.
Vancouver played with a short bench for much of Game 1. Matt Cooke left late in the second period with a strained groin and did not return. Fellow left wing Alex Burrows left in the first overtime after he was checked hard into the glass by Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas.
The series shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively.