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Oh what a night

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
That was a regular season game, right?

Someone forgot to mention that to the Calgary Flames as they showed up to GM Place for another pre-season dress rehersal on Thursday night and were rudely escorted out of of town by the Vancouver Canucks.

The damage was 6-0 Vancouver in the Canucks' home and season opener, five different players scored for the Canucks, nine players had at least a point on what can easily be regarded as one of the prettiest scoresheets Vancouver has ever produced.

"Everybody's feeling pretty good about themselves, I think having a good pre-season like that definitely helped going into tonight and I think everybody is confident out there," said forward Ryan Kesler, who picked up two assists on the night.

"They feel confident with who they're playing with and we have a good team chemistry going right now."

This season opener had the intensity of a seventh game playoff battle with both teams playing for a win, but the Canucks were also playing in memory of former teammate Luc Bourdon.

Vancouver's home opener was also Luc Bourdon night as the team paid tribute to their fallen solider with a pre-game video which showcased the life of the 21-year-old Canucks prospect that died tragically in a motor vehicle collision last May. The touching video was set to Tom Cochrane's song Big League and Cochrane himself was in the house to play it.

It was an emotional start to the season as there wasn't a dry eye in the house, how the Canucks switched gears to face the Flames a few minutes afterwards, I'll never know.

"It was tough, but once the puck dropped I think the guys showed up and played a good game tonight," said Alex Burrows, Bourdon's closest friend on the team, who scored twice to honour Luc but admitted it was tough to focus on the game in the opening minutes.

"Once I got my first shift under my belt I think that's where I started feeling good and my legs were going pretty good tonight. Maybe Luc was out there to help me, sometimes there are those weird things in life...the other night McIver scores the winner in overtime and tonight I get two so it's a weird thing and I think there are those things in life.

"That's what I had to deal with tonight and I started to focus and played hard and for some reason I got some lucky bounces going my way tonight. Maybe you can say it's Luc, maybe not, but it was a good game for us."

Whether it was the emotional boost the Canucks received or simply the team's eagerness to send a message to their Northwest division rival, Vancouver did not look like the feeble team so many have predicted will fail to make the playoffs.

They were exactly the opposite, in fact, and the Flames didn't see it coming.

"It was great, we got the win, but we've got a long way to go and we'll make sure we enjoy tonight, but it's back to work tomorrow," Roberto Luongo said, fresh off his first shutout of the season and the 39th of his career, a fantastic 25 save performance.

"We've been playing well, we're a confident group and we've got a lot of momentum. We just have to make sure we bring the same effort every night and hopefully we'll see more results like this."

Captain Louie looked good in pre-season play but this was another level all together as he bailed the Canucks out of a few tough situations in the first period, including a lengthy five-on-three Calgary power play, before the offence gave him some support.

"They were buzzing but they didn't get anything clean out there. It was a tough way to start the game but we were able to contain them without them scoring and after that we started playing well," said Luongo, adding that there's no personal glory for him in the shutout, it's all about the team right now.

"We want to win, we want to make the playoffs and that's the bottom line in every game is the two points and whatever I can do to contribute and help my teammates, I'll do that."

Impressed is an understatement as to how Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was feeling following the win, Vancouver's 15th home opening win in 27 tries, yet it wasn't regarding the logistics of Vancouver's blowout win. It all revolved around Luc Bourdon and how they dealt with the events of the team honouring his memory.

"The last couple of days have been really emotional on a number of levels, not just because of opening night, but because of the special tribute to Luc and I thought our guys handled it really well," said Vigneault. "Not because of the outcome, but we were ready and prepared and focused and I'm really proud of how they handled themselves in the very challenging day."

The Canucks handled themselves like professionals before they handled the Flames, whether or not Luc played a part is anyone's guess, but there's no doubt he's smiling after a win like that.

Luc Bourdon: Forever A Canuck.

  0 – Dry eyes in GM Place during the emotional Luc Bourdon tribute video that was shown prior to the game

1 – Pay-Per-View-eske fight between Dion Phaneuf and Steve Bernier in the third period

9 – Canucks who recorded at least a point in this season opening massacre

25 – Saves for Roberto Luongo, who recorded his 39th career shutout

18,630 – Fans in attendance who showed Luc and his family the respect they deserve following the tribute video

Six goals on only 23 shots, need we say more?

The Canucks were clicking in this game just like they were in pre-season and it was quite the sight. They scored at even-strength, on the power play and shorthanded, what more can you ask for?

Luongo made it look easy in stopping all 25 shots thrown his way, but there were another 15 shots that never even got to him thanks to some excellent blocks by the Canucks. Alex Edler and Ryan Johnson combined for seven blocked shots.

Vancouver's performance on the powerplay certainly left a lot to be desired, they were 0-for-7 before Mattias Ohlund lit the lamp midway through the third period.

Rick Rypien used his wheels to score a shorthanded goal with just over five minutes left to play, so the special teams rewarded the Canucks twice.

Calgary was held at bay by Vancouver while up a man, they swarmed Luongo's crease during a five-on-three in the first period, but other than that the Canucks were suffocating.
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