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Spring cleaning

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
St. Louis fans attending Game 4 between the Blues and Vancouver Canucks were urged to wear blue to “blue out” the Scottrade Center.

Thanks to an inspired effort from Alex Burrows, the Canucks blew the Blues right out of the playoffs.

For as clutch as Burrows was for the Canucks during the regular season, he added another chapter to his already unfathomable feel good story by scoring the overtime game-winner to defeat the Blues 3-2 and thrust Vancouver to the second round.

With less than 30 seconds to play in the first overtime, Willie Mitchell slapped a pass intended for Jay McClement out of the Vancouver end and down the ice.

Reading the play, Burrows stopped on a dime at centre ice and streaked in trying to beat Blues defender Barret Jackman to the loose puck. The feisty Canucks forward did just that as he cut wide with his head up looking for a teammate to hit with a pass.

The Sedins weren’t in soon enough so with only one skate left in the right faceoff circle Burrows let a low shot fly, a shot that eluded Chris Mason five-hole, a shot that gave Vancouver its first four-game sweep in franchise history.

“Willie just made a great play to get it up and I thought I had a step on Jackman there and I just wanted to get it on net for a rebound and luckily I found a way five-hole and we’ll take it this time of year,” said a jovial Burrows, who scored with 19 ticks remaining on the clock.

Not only did Burrows covert the series clinching goal, but he also was a key part of the Canucks penalty kill that was forced to tend with three Blues power plays in the extra frame.

Ryan Kesler was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Mike Weaver midway through overtime and after already extinguishing a Daniel Sedin penalty, the Canucks were up against the wall.

Key plays like Burrows coming back to stick-check Brad Boyes on Roberto Luongo’s doorstep helped Vancouver capture the 100th sweep in NHL history.

Luongo finished with 47 saves in all, including 18 saves in overtime, as he was the backbone for the Canucks for the fourth time this series.

“Roberto played unbelievable for us, didn’t allow a bad goal, made some big saves for us,” said Burrows, adding that he’s never seen this team come together as well as they have so far in the post-season.

“Every time we found a way to get it done and all 20 guys did their job and that’s what we need.”

Sporting a 2-0 lead midway through the second period off goals from Kyle Wellwood and Burrows, the Canucks suffered their first defensive mental lapse of the series allowing a pair of Blues goals in 3:24.

Vancouver recovered by not giving up a goal in the third period for the fourth straight game, which included killing off the three aforementioned St. Louis overtime power plays.

The Canucks were 7-for-7 snuffing out Blues power plays on the night and only allowed one St. Louis goal on 24 attempts in the series.

“There’s no doubt our penalty kill was terrific this whole series and we’re feeling really good about it and we never allowed them to get going,” said Mitchell.

Despite going 0-for-3 on the man advantage in Game 4, Vancouver finished 4-for-18 overall with all three goals in Game 3 coming via the power play.

“If you allow our power play to get going, it can also fuel 5-on-5 play, it just fuels our whole team and when you do a good job like we did, it takes a little life out of their bench and out of their players who like to touch the puck to make plays and I think it paid big dividends for us,” added Mitchell.

Vancouver’s reward for its efficient play is a lengthy layoff that could extend upwards of nine days.

The bad news there is that the Canucks want to jump right into the second round with how well their playing, the good is that sore players like Mats Sundin and Sami Salo, who both sat out this contest, get a chance to rest up.

“It’s a bit long, I think we would like to go right away, but at the same time we’ll get Sami and Mats back, everybody will be fresh and we’ll have a lot of energy to go so it’s good to get this over with,” said Burrows.

Who the Canucks will face next and when the series will start have yet to be determined with Vancouver the first team moving through to the second round, but the hope is that all the remaining Western Conference rounds go a tiring seven games.

The Sedins had nine points in three games coming into this game and despite buzzing, they came up short in Game 4. Luckily their linemate Alex Burrows was there to lend a hand with two goals, including the overtime game-winner.

Kyle Wellwood scored his first career playoff goal to open the scoring for the Canucks and while his linemate Mason Raymond still hasn't hit the scoresheet, he's been playing with the intensity of a playoff veteran.

The Canucks were outshot by the Blues 49-36.

Even with Sami Salo out of the line-up, the Canucks were able to shut down the Blues.

Every blueliner saw increased ice time to pick up the slack, Kevin Bieksa, Mattias Ohlund and Willie Mitchell all logged over 30 minutes.

The last line of defence was a wall for the fourth time this series as Roberto Luongo stopped 47 shots, including 18 in overtime.

The Canucks went 0-for-3 on the power play finishing the series at 4-for-18. They may not have been masterful, but the man advantage got the job done in the third game with all three goals coming on the power play.

Vancouver stopped all seven St. Louis power plays, including three in overtime, and only allowed the Blues one goal on 24 attemps in the series.

2 – Goals for Alex Burrows, including the overtime game-winner

1 Sweep for the Canucks in franchise history

100 – Sweeps throughout the history of the NHL

– Career playoff score for Kyle Wellwood

46 Saves for Roberto Luongo, 18 in overtime when Vancouver needed him most

"These guys play well, they were one of the hottest teams down the stretch and they play hard and have a great system."

-Roberto Luongo

"We had a limited line-up, we were up 2-0 but they really came back in our end and were pressuring hard, but we found a way."

-Alex Burrows

"There’s no doubt our penalty kill was terrific this whole series and we’re feeling really good about it and we never allowed them to get going."

-Willie Mitchell

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