The stage of the playoffs creates defining moments for players and teams that become a part of team lore forever etched in history.

When we think of clutch moments in hockey we think of incredible goals, wild saves and mind-boggling defensive plays.

This playoff run has seen the Vancouver Canucks goaltenders stealing the show, overtime wins and a league-leading three third-period comebacks through the playoffs. 

Artūrs Šilovs is coming off a career-high 42-save performance against the Edmonton Oilers in game three of the second round. It was the sixth playoff game of the young 23-year-old's NHL career. Šilovs focuses on managing his game, trusting the Canucks’ system and wanting to play hard for his teammates. 

“The guys got my back on game one, so I had to have them [their back] today and everyone’s resilient, blocking shots. Really high scoring chances they had, our guys managed to block a lot of them, so that’s a big credit for them too,” Šilovs said.

Feeling some playoff nostalgia and seeing many Canucks alumni around the rink over the last month, we decided to check in with a few Canucks alumni who shared their mindset through the playoffs and how they prepared themselves for success when it mattered most. 

Doing all the little things right leading up to big moments is how they came up clutch. Having the ability to be “the guy” stemmed from wanting to go through a brick wall for their teammates much more than for any personal success.


Brendan Morrison scored a triple overtime winner to force game seven against the Calgary Flames in 2004.

The series was an instant classic.

The Canucks had a 4-0 lead, but the Flames battled back to tie things up. It was gut check time in game six heading into triple overtime and Morrison said going into each extra frame they chipped away at every shift and looked at it as an opportunity put the game away.

“You just never know how long these games are going to go on for, so you just have to be prepared to continue to do all the little things right and as the game goes on your shifts become shorter and you become a little bit more fatigued. Nobody wants to be that guy that makes a mistake, so you’re just thinking ‘Just be safe out there, just be safe and don’t take any chances,’ so that was kind of the mindset heading into overtime,” Morrison said.

The mental battle of playing through two hours of hockey is as difficult as the physical part of it, but Morrison reminded himself of the long hours he’d put in on the ice and in the gym during the offseason. The continued work from the summer through to the playoffs helped him perform in key moments on a big stage.

“I felt good. I felt like I was playing good hockey in that series and so I had decent confidence that I could be a difference maker. That’s the mindset you want to have. Going into those longer overtimes I kept reminding myself ‘Hey, you had a great summer, you put in all this work, you’re in good shape’ so just that positive reinforcement to really just keep your mind in a good place,” Morrison said.

“Eventually I got an opportunity, we won a puck battle in the corner, Näzzy bumped it to me and I was able to walk out and open my hips up and do what we call a 10-to-2 move and it worked out. I was able to outwait [Miikka] Kiprusoff, who was outstanding in that series, and I was able to slide it underneath him. It was a strange celebration, I collapsed to my knees, and I remembered being so tired. I guess more than anything it was relief right, knowing that we were in complete control of the game and then we almost gave it away. Winning that game, knowing we gave ourselves an opportunity to go back home and play that game seven was a good feeling.”

Being able to stop Calgary’s momentum meant not letting the moment get the best of them and staying even keel, continuing to do what they had always done.

The Pitt Meadows native had scored a couple of game-winning goals in regulation and overtime play in the regular season, and he says doing it in the playoffs takes another level of conjecture. Trevor Linden coined Morrison’s nickname “Mo-T” because of his knack for scoring overtime goals.

“You have to believe in yourself, and you have to have that confidence that you can be the guy. You want to be the guy, you don’t want to wait for something to happen, you want to try and make it happen. Sometimes the guys would call me Mo-T, so that was kind of funny. When you have that banter and you’ve had that feeling of doing it before I think you believe it can happen.”

B-Mo said that being able to find that extra gear was easy when you will do anything to help your teammates win.

“You see all the time and effort that these guys put in and all the work that goes into it, sacrifice, and time away from families, and all that stuff. So, if you can do just a small part or do anything to help the team get to their ultimate goal, that’s what it’s all about. It’s really just encouraging each other and being supportive.”


Former Canucks’ goaltender Kirk McLean was part of the Canucks’ epic Stanley Cup Run in 1994.

During the 1994 playoff run, McLean backstopped the Canucks with a 15-9 record, posting a .928% save percentage stopping 761 shots through 24 games.

McLean prepared for games in the playoffs the same way he would for the regular season, which helped him through big games. He mentioned the team’s confidence grew after every round they advanced, and the coaching staff gave them confidence and kept things light.

“Right from Calgary when we’re going to game seven, Pat Quinn said, ‘Pack your bags, we’re going straight to Dallas,’ so there’s a boost of confidence from the coach and GM, that was the way he approached it. He and the rest of the coaching staff kept things pretty loose, whether it was telling a joke before the game or in between periods, just something like that," said McLean.

“The snowball started rolling and everybody’s confidence rose. We went into every game feeling like we had a chance. If anything, the only thing that’s going to beat us is ourselves if we don’t stick to our system or don’t believe in ourselves, but we’re definitely going to give ourselves a pretty good chance. Literally every game we didn’t care if we won it in 60 minutes or 90 minutes, whatever it takes.”

In the first round, McLean made a series-saving stop on Robert Reichel during the first overtime of game seven in the first round. There was certainty amongst the group going into overtime that they could pull out the win because they had already overcome a 3-1 series deficit against a Cup-favoured team.

“We were the underdogs going into it and we went through adversity going down three games to one. We took everything shift by shift, period by period, game by game,” McLean said.

McLean noted his teammate Greg Adams’ tying goal in game seven against the Flames as a clutch play that helped them continue their quest for the Cup.

"If he doesn’t score that goal there’s not even an overtime and there’s no ‘94 run,” McLean said.

McLean learned early on that in his position he needed to not get too high or too low and took pride in being a steady force that was reassuring to his teammates.

Adams felt it was Kirk’s demeanor that helped pull them through in key moments in games.

“With Kirk, it was his personality and his attitude. Even in tense situations, he was always very calm, he would be the guy joking around a bit, but he had a calmness about him that was also very helpful in the dressing room because when you see your goaltender relaxed and ready to play the game and not uptight, it made it easier for you to feel that way as well,” Adams said.

In the semi-finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, McLean had back-to-back shutouts in games three and four. In game one against the Rangers in the Cup Finals he had a 52-save performance and 17 saves in overtime.

He found ways to stay consistent whether he was in the zone anticipating plays before they happened or breaking down the game into five or ten-minute segments to stay sharp, he said their leadership helped them keep looking forward at what they needed to do.

"We had some vocal leaders without a doubt, one being Trev, two being Tim Hunter, Babs would speak up once in a while. We weren’t an overly vocal group, but we had a lot of veteran players that when they did speak it came from the heart and it meant a lot. It was never in your face or anything like that, it was constructive criticism, or it was just pep talk type of thing. I just liked to focus in and visualize what was going to happen next period and tried not to worry about what just happened the previous period and went front there,” McLean said.


Greg Adams scored back-to-back overtime goals in the Canucks’ 1994 Stanley Cup run.

As McLean mentioned, Adams’ game-tying goal against Calgary in the first round was as important as his game-winning goals in the semifinals against the Leafs and in game one against the New York Rangers.

Against the Leafs, Adams scored the game five OT winner in the second overtime period to send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals.

In the former 2-3-2 NHL playoff structure the Canucks were at home for game five and wanted to finish the series to avoid having to travel back to Toronto for games six and seven and gain themselves some rest.

“There was a little extra pressure knowing that in the back of our minds, we really needed to win that game. Everyone wants to get that goal, everyone wants to get the big overtime goal in the playoffs and you think it’d be so fun to get it, but more importantly, the first thought in my mind and I think in most of the guys’ minds is don’t get scored against, don’t make the mistake, be solid defensively and just wait for your opportunities offensively,” Adams said.

He laughed saying that he was quite fatigued going into the second overtime period, and that he was hoping they would score quickly. When he saw Trevor Linden make a pass to Dave Babych, Adams said he knew he had to get to the net, ultimately collecting the rebound and potting the first of his consecutive overtime goals.

Adams said Vancouver’s strong goaltending and defensive group helped him play unafraid because he knew he had backup if he needed it.

“The way Kirk played in the playoffs and how solid our defence was during the playoffs, it really freed us up as forwards I think,” he said.

McLean admired Adams’ fearlessness to attack the net front areas and that’s part of what helped him make big time plays.

“His compete and his will to go to the net were exceptional. He was a power forward back in the day where he didn’t mind taking a whack or two while he was driving to the net either carrying the puck to score or to get into position for a pass or tip-in,” McLean said.

In game one of the Stanley Cup Finals, Adams admitted they were outplayed but because McLean stood on his head with a 52-save effort, they couldn’t let that go to waste.

This time his overtime winner was on a two-on-one with Cliff Ronning.

“I know Cliff, if you’re open, he’s going to get it to you, so I was just skating towards the net as hard as I could and I kept myself open for the pass and he made a great pass to me and I just one-timed it not really looking where I was shooting, but just making sure I got a good shot on net and fortunate that it went in,” Adams said.

Like McLean, Adams said they got a lot of confidence through the playoffs from their first-round matchup against Calgary.

Adams said that everyone on their team made key plays that culminated in them reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. 

“If you look back, just about every guy on that team made clutch plays. Some of them were defensive plays and some didn’t get recognized because they weren’t big goals, but every single guy was making clutch plays. It just felt like we were playing for each other,” said Adams.

“I remember times sitting on the bench and watching a guy like Bret Hedican sacrifice himself. There’s no way I wasn’t going to do the same thing watching my teammates sacrifice and do everything to win every game. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that with any other team, we really wanted to win for each other and when you see one of your teammates out there sacrificing the way they did it’s just contagious. It kind of built itself and it snowballed, and I think that’s how we were so successful that playoff year.”

Playing in Vancouver, where hockey culture is strong and passionate fans bring an unmatched energy, it can give an extra bit of juice for a player to bring it every night.

“The support of the fans in Vancouver was amazing. They were excited and it was fun to go walk into the arena, step on the ice and have the support we had during the playoffs. Canucks fans delivered mail to Madison Square Garden, and there were letters encouraging us and supporting us when we got to New York which was pretty cool. That was something I’ll probably never forget as well.”


As the Vancouver Canucks continue their playoff journey, they understand that true clutch performances are born not just from individual brilliance, but from the collective determination to fight for each other, to sacrifice, and to leave everything on the ice. In Vancouver, where the passion of the fans fuels their fire, Canucks are learning what it means to be truly clutch in playoff moments, poised to create their own unforgettable memories and etch their names alongside legends who came before them.