VANCOUVER - It was an effort for Alex Burrows not to cry during the Vancouver Canucks tribute to defenceman Luc Bourdon Thursday night.
Burrows honoured his friend the best way he knew how, scoring a pair of goals as the Canucks opened their NHL season with a decisive 6-0 win over the Calgary Flames. Burrows admitted he battled tears as a hushed crowd watched a video remembering Bourdon, who died in a motorcycle accident in May.
"I almost cried a little bit on the ice," said Burrows, Bourdon's closet friend on the Canucks. "It was tough watching.
"For sure this was a special night for everyone in this locker-room. Luc was one of my best friends. I think everyone showed up and played a good game. It was an emotional night for us but I think once we got going, and got our legs going, we played pretty well."
Burrows sent Bourdon a private message, celebrating his first goal with a little bow-and-arrow gesture.
"He used to do this move after he scored goals in junior, pulling the arrow and shooting," said Burrows. "I did it really quick, just a little tribute to him."
Burrows, who had dinner with the Bourdon's family Wednesday night, kept the puck. He hopes to give it to Bourdon's mother or girlfriend.
Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist and goaltender Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the shutout as the Canucks overcame a slow start, then held their cool as the frustrated Flames turned chippy later in the game.
"We didn't let up," said Luongo, who made a couple key saves in the first period. "We kept going after them the whole game.
"We saw they started getting frustrated and we didn't try to get involved in that stuff."
Bourdon's last game-worn jersey was presented to his family prior to the match. A heart-warming video showing pictures of Bourdon as a child, him playing junior hockey and his days with the Canucks, was played on the big screen. Tom Cochrane and Ken Greer of the band Red Rider played a live version of their hit song Big League.
Bourdon's mother, grandmother, uncle, aunt and girlfriend attended the emotional ceremony.
Vancouver players will wear LB on their helmets this year in memory of Bourdon.
Earlier in the day, the Canucks unveiled the Luc Bourdon wall of dreams at GM Place. Its centrepiece is a large photograph of a smiling Bourdon holding up the puck from his first NHL goal.
The Canucks took a 1-0 lead into the second period on a Henrik Sedin goal. Vancouver then broke the game open with newcomer Steve Bernier and Burrows scoring just 94 second apart.
"We weren't very good," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "We didn't respond. They outcompeted us tonight.
"We weren't as disciplined as we should have been later. At the same time, they were better than us in the second and third."
Defenceman Mattias Ohlund, on the power play, and Rick Rypien, short-handed, also scored for the Canucks. Daniel Sedin collected three assists.
Besides his goal, Bernier became a home-town hero when he came to Henrik Sedin's aid and went toe-to-toe in a fight with hulking Flame defenceman Dion Phaneuf in the third period. The sellout crowd of 18,630 chanted "Bernier, Bernier."
"It was a big hit on one of the Sedins," shrugged Bernier, who Vancouver obtained in a trade from Buffalo this summer. "I didn't realize it was him (Phaneuf) at first.
"It's my job to defend our best players. You win or lose a fight, but at least you try to defend your teammates."
The Flames played without defenceman Robyn Regehr, who returned to Calgary after his wife went into labour.
The game also was the first for former Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi in a Flames uniform. Bertuzzi was greeted with a mixture of cheers and jeers during the introductions.
The Flames had some good chances early, especially during a two-man advantage in the first period. Luongo was equal to the challenge, stopping Iginla after a feed from Bertuzzi, then dragging a leg in front of a David Moss shot.
The Canucks opened the scoring at 16:25 of the first period. Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff stopped Daniel Sedin on a two-on-one break. Daniel got his own rebound behind the net and flipped it out to Henrik who notched the first Canuck goal of the season.
Notes: The two teams play again Saturday night in Calgary, which opens a six-game road trip for Vancouver. ...The Canucks have 11 different players on the roster from the opening game of last season. ...The last time Vancouver missed the playoffs the team rebounded to win the Northwest Division with a team record for points.