Alex Burrows was Luc Bourdon's closest friend on the Vancouver Canucks. On opening night of the new NHL season, Burrows paid tribute to his friend in the best way he knew how.
Burrows scored twice Thursday night as the Vancouver Canucks routed the Calgary Flames 6-0 at General Motors Place. The game followed a tribute to Bourdon, a 21-year-old defenseman who died in a motorcycle accident on May 29.
"He was helping us out tonight, that's for sure," Burrows said after the emotional opening-night victory.
Before the game, Bourdon's last game-worn jersey was presented to his family. A video with pictures of Bourdon as a child, playing junior hockey and his days with the Canucks was shown. Bourdon's mother, grandmother, uncle, aunt and girlfriend attended the emotional ceremony. The Canucks also unveiled the "Luc Bourdon Wall of Dreams" in his memory.
Burrows said Bourdon would have been embarrassed by all the fuss.
"He would say, 'Don't do this for me, I'm just a normal guy,"' Burrows said before the game. "Obviously it's really nice what they are doing. As players, that's a real classy thing the organization is doing."
The Canucks, who ended last season with an embarrassing 7-1 home loss to the Flames, were as good Thursday as they were bad on that night six months ago.
They were led by Burrows, who pointed to the sky after his goal at 1:57 of the second period gave the Canucks a 3-0 lead. He made it 4-0 at 2:48 of the third with a one-timer off a pass from Ryan Johnson.
"The first few minutes were hard. I almost cried during the video," Burrows said. "After they dropped the puck, the fans got us going. We had one goal in mind, and that was to win the game."
After Roberto Luongo kept the game scoreless in the early going by denying the Canucks during a 5-on-3 advantage, Henrik Sedin got the Canucks' first goal at 16:25 of the first period. Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff stopped Daniel Sedin on a 2-on-1 break, but Daniel got his own rebound behind the net and flipped it to Henrik, who had plenty of room.
Vancouver took control early in the second with goals 94 seconds apart.
Steve Bernier, obtained in a trade from Buffalo over the summer, scored his first goal as a Canuck 23 seconds into the period off a pass from Henrik Sedin. Burrows then blasted a shot over Kiprusoff's leg after a pass from Ryan Kesler for a 3-0 lead.
"After the first period, we settled down a little," said Luongo, the Canucks' new captain.
"We came out in the second period and took over the game." Burrows, Mattias Ohlund and Rick Rypien added goals in the third period. "We were really prepared and focused," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, whose team has plenty to prove after missing the playoffs last season. "The last few days have been really emotional on a lot of levels, and the guys really handled it well."
That's more than the Flames could say after losing their sixth consecutive season opener.
"They ran away with it," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. "They definitely outcompeted us. They were better than us into the second and third periods. We had some big breakdowns. We weren't very good tonight."
The two teams play again Saturday night in Calgary — the opener of a six-game road trip for Vancouver.
"It's good that we get a chance to go right back at them," Iginla said.
Bruins 5, Avalanche 4 | Video
A missed shot that became a perfect pass set up David Krejci's tie-breaking goal with 2:36 remaining to give the Bruins a season-opening victory at the Pepsi Center, spoiling Tony Granato's return as Avs' coach.
Chuck Kobasew half-fanned on a shot from the slot, but the puck slid right to Krejci, and the second-year forward banged it past Peter Budaj to put Boston ahead to stay. It was the fifth and final lead change in a game in which neither team led by more than one goal.
"I just put the puck on net and hoped it went in. It did," Krejci said. "It feels good."
Tim Thomas preserved the lead in the final 10 seconds with a save on Joe Sakic and the rebound try by Milan Hedjuk.
Thomas made the difference in goal for Boston, which was outshot 39-20, including 20-5 in the opening period.
"We did skate well, we did create enough offensively, but there are areas we can improve," said Granato, who replaced Joel Quenneville — who had replaced him in 2004.
Perhaps the best news for Boston was the return of Patrice Bergeron, who missed all but 10 games last season due to a serious concussion. Bergeron had a pair of assists.
"I couldn't wait for this day," Bergeron said. "I looked forward to this like nothing else."
The Bruins made the most of their chances and were able to escape the first period with a 2-2 tie despite being outshot badly. Phil Kessel put Boston ahead at 6:21, and after Milan Hedjuk's power-play goal at 10:02 tied it, rookie Blake Wheeler put Boston back in front at 10:51 by scoring in his NHL debut.
Wojtek Wolski poked in a rebound at 14:52 to tie it, and Colorado went ahead for the first time at 6:34 of the second period on a goal by Cody McLeod.
Marc Savard tied the score for the third time with a power-play goal at 10:43, and Boston went back in front at 5:36 of the third when newcomer Michael Ryder rifled a shot past Budaj. Colorado made it 4-4 at 10:17 with a blast from the slot past Thomas.
The Avalanche came into the game with the NHL’s best winning percentage (16-5-7, .696) in season openers.
"You have to give (Thomas) credit. He played well and they did what they had to do," Leopold said. "It's one of those deals where we got a weird bounce at the end and they end up getting the game-winning goal. It's frustrating. First game of the season, we put a good effort. We have to make some changes mentally — and not so many mistakes — but we'll learn from it."
Sharks 4, Ducks 1 | Video
Todd McLellan's NHL coaching debut was an unqualified success.
Jonathan Cheechoo scored twice as San Jose banged around its Southern California rivals and made McLellan a winner in his first game as an NHL bench boss.
"I don't know if there's anything close to a perfect game, but it was a nice feeling when the buzzer went," McLellan said. "Throughout camp, we never had a chance to play our full team (because of injuries), but some of the principles we stressed during camp were showing up out there on the ice, and that's great to see."
The Sharks did almost nothing wrong — they outshot the Ducks 41-29, drew seven power plays while allowing only two and spent the whole night pushing the pace. The only disappointment for the sellout crowd at the Shark Tank was that Evgeni Nabokov lost his shutout when Rob Niedermayer scored a power-play goal with 5:25 remaining.
"There was a lot of nervous energy in the locker room," said defenseman Rob Blake, one of two newcomers on the blue line who's being counted on to improve the Sharks' power play. "Anaheim was a great test. We came out and did what we needed to do to win."
McLellan coached Detroit's power play last season as the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. Those skills were evident in the Sharks' lively movement and passing — particularly in the second period, when San Jose outshot Anaheim 21-3 while enjoying a series of power plays.
"You look how talented and fast our forwards are, and our job is to get the puck in their hands and then follow the play," Blake said.
Cheechoo opened the scoring 2:32 into the second period, popping in the rebound of a shot by Dan Boyle, the other new arrival on the blue line, after a turnover by Scott Niedermayer.
At 6:44, Cheechoo slammed home a pass from Joe Thornton for a power-play goal. Christian Ehrhoff added another power-play goal on a screened blast from the point at 2:52 of the third period.
"They came at us and worked the power play after the first goal," Scott Niedermayer said. "Both teams were playing tight until then. You're not going to win many hockey games when you give the puck away. We should be able to deal with a bad play and stay with our game plan, but we got away from that."
After Niedermayer capitalized on a rare defensive error by the Sharks, Devon Setoguchi beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the slot with 4:03 remaining.