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Higgins plays role of Game 1 hero again

by Dan Rosen
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Call him the Game 1 hero, the leadoff hitter.

For the second straight Game 1, Chris Higgins scored the first goal for the Vancouver Canucks and again it turned out to be the winner. His goal 12:14 into the second period was all the Canucks needed Thursday night to take a 1-0 victory from Nashville and a one-game lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinal series.

Higgins roofed a shot over Pekka Rinne's raised-up pads after receiving a pretty pass from Maxim Lapierre, who darted toward the net from the right side and pulled the pass back to Higgins. The celebration had to be delayed because the officials had to go to Toronto to confirm that the puck hit off the white bar in the back of the net, rather than the crossbar.

Higgins explained the goal, his night and the Canucks' 1-0 win to the media following the game. Here is some of what he had to say:

Q: Did you know your goal was in?

A: Yeah, I thought it went in off the back bar there. But then they kept playing so I had a bad feeling in my stomach. I thought it went in, yeah.

Q: Can you take us through it?

A: "Juice (Kevin Bieksa) made a nice play on the blue line, made a nice pass to Max (Lapierre) and we kind of had all day. I slowed up for him, gave him a target and it managed to get in there.

Q: Did you get a sense that that might be enough tonight?

A: You never want to think that. You always want to get another one. But it was just that kind of game. There weren't a lot of scoring chances for or against, but we managed to get it done.

Q: It seemed like that was the only way you guys were going to beat Rinne tonight, get him diving and sprawling. Do you agree?

A: Yeah, he played phenomenal. He made a lot of hard saves look really easy. I thought we even did a good job of getting some guys in front of him and he still made some good saves around bodies. He played a heck of a game.

Q: There was some thought that you guys might be mentally or physically fatigued after a seven-game series against Chicago, but you didn't seem to show it out there.

A: We had our day in-between series to collect our thoughts and get ready for Nashville. It was an emotional high coming off that Game 7, we were all pumped for Lu (Roberto Luongo) and Burr (Alex Burrows), but we got bigger goals than winning a first round.

Q: Did some of the emotion carry over into this game?

A: I guess so. It's the playoffs, right? You've got to play with emotion.

Q: Even though you guys didn't score more than one goal, were you happy with the way the offense looked at times out there?

A: We did a pretty good job, I thought. They had a good pushback, but we stayed controlled and didn't get too ahead of ourselves. That was nice to see out of our team.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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