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Sedins give Canucks fans a final magic moment

Twins combine for overtime winner in last home game before retirement

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

VANCOUVER -- One more. One more for Vancouver, for the Canucks. One more for the parents who raised them, Tommy and Tora; for the older brothers they idolized growing up, Peter and Stefan; for their wives and children and friends in the stands. One more for the fans, for the kids at BC Children's Hospital, for everyone they had wanted to thank when they announced their retirement Monday.

One more for Daniel and Henrik Sedin in their final home game. In overtime, on the power play, fans on their feet, Rogers Arena buzzing, Henrik sent a saucer pass from the right-wing corner to the point. At the end of a one-minute, 16-second shift, Daniel settled the puck on his blade and took a slap shot.

The puck whizzed past Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper at 2:33, the horn sounded, the arena roared and wow, what a moment. The Canucks won 4-3. For the second time Thursday night, Daniel scored a goal assisted by Henrik.

 

[RELATED: Sedins lift Canucks past Coyotes in final NHL home gameSedin twins get amazing tribute, perfect finish in final home game]

 

"Relief," Daniel said. "I was tired, but I was happy. You couldn't dream of a better ending in this building, the last time we stepped on this ice, and it was emotional."

The Canucks mobbed the Sedins along the boards as the victory song blared. Instead of going to their locker room, the Coyotes stayed on the ice so they could shake hands with the Sedins as if this were the end of a Stanley Cup Playoff series. The Sedins took a victory lap, sticks raised, gloves clapping. Instead of the Three Stars, there was one star, shared by the Sedins. Another victory lap. 

"This is a night where …" Henrik said, his voice trailing off. "When you get a chance to go through this, it's just once in a lifetime. You can't describe the feelings."

Finally, Sportsnet's Dan Murphy interviewed the Sedins on the ice. Henrik shrugged off the idea of destiny. He said it didn't matter what happened. This was going to be one of the highlights of their careers. As he spoke, the fans chanted.

"One more year!"

Alas, the 37-year-old forwards will play one more game, at the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SNP, NHL.TV). If only they could play forever.

Video: ARI@VAN: Sedins steal the show in last home game

* * * * *

It would have been special to have one top-three pick spend an entire 17-season career with the Canucks, winning the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion, scoring more than 1,000 points, leading by example with class, going out like this.

One would have been worthy of this night.

But two? On the same line?

Henrik, a center, the No. 3 pick in the 1999 NHL Draft, won the Art Ross and the Hart Trophy as most valuable player in 2009-10. He's first in games played (1,329), assists (830) and points (1,070) in Canucks history, and seventh in goals (240).

Daniel, a left wing, the No. 2 pick in the 1999 draft, won the Art Ross and was runner-up for the Hart in 2010-11. He's first in goals (393) and game-winning goals (86) in Canucks history, and second in games played (1,305), assists (648) and points (1,041). 

The Sedins have played 1,275 games together. Only Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio of the Detroit Red Wings have played more together (1,353).

The Sedins have each had a point on the same goal 745 times. Only Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri of the Edmonton Oilers have done it more (764).

But brothers? Identical twins? 

The Sedins are the only brothers to have reached 1,000 points each. Maurice and Henri Richard are the only others with 900 points each. Each spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens, but they overlapped by only five seasons. Maurice had 966 points from 1942-60. Henri had 1,046 from 1955-75.

That's how ultra-rare the Sedins have been -- one, or two, of a kind. The NHL might never see anything like them again.

Video: ARI@VAN: D. Sedin nets OT winner in last home game

* * * * *

The Canucks usually go over video of their previous game at the morning skate. This time, they watched a video of the Sedins' careers instead. 

Coach Travis Green wasn't just celebrating their successes. He was appreciating their struggles early in their careers, when they persevered through abuse on and off the ice, and using them as examples for the younger players.

"You see Hall of Fame guys that, rightfully so, get treated very well with a lot of respect, but they've earned that respect and they've learned a lot throughout their career as well," Green said. "These young guys were 4, 5, 6 years old when [the Sedins] were getting beat up pretty good, learning the same tough lessons but in a lot harder manner on and off the ice."

The Sedins went through their game-day routine for the final time in Vancouver. Taking the option not to skate in the morning. Henrik picking up Daniel and driving to the game. Being among the first players to arrive at Rogers Arena. Watching East Coast games. Grabbing a snack. Going to meetings.

Tweet from @Canucks: "It���s little things like our drives to the rink for games I���ll really miss..."Join Daniel & Henrik on their final drive to @RogersArena. #ThankYouSedins pic.twitter.com/KeAj9YyFDw

Ron Shute, 71, has been a game-day attendant for the Canucks since 1960-61, when they were a minor-league team. He has worked with each player since the Canucks joined the NHL in 1970-71, seeing their true selves behind the scenes.

The Sedins?

"Right at the top," he said. "You can't meet better guys."

Ask them to sign something? Ask them to meet someone? They always say yes with a smile. They throw their towels in the basket. They have the lightest laundry bags on the team, when some players have the attendants do enough for a two-week trip.

"They're better people than they are hockey players," Shute said. "What people have said about them is true. When people are retiring sometimes, everything's good. It's almost like a funeral or a wake. They never did anything bad."

He laughed.

"These guys, it's true," he said. "It's absolutely true."

Video: ARI@VAN: D. Sedin buries wrister in final home game

* * * * *

The fans streamed to Rogers Arena in the rain, thousands in Sedin jerseys, one or the other. Hundreds visited a tribute wall in Toshiba Plaza, not simply signing their names, but handwriting thick, heartfelt paragraphs of thanks.

"Where did almost 20 years go?"

"Thank you Hank and Danny for making Vancouver your home and for making us feel like family. You will be missed."

"Thanks for making Vancouver classy."

Tweet from @anitabathe: Lots of @Canucks fans already emotional ahead of tonight's game. Final match for the Sedins and people are leaving their thank you messages. #Sedins #NHL #Canucks #Vancouver #BCHockey pic.twitter.com/W8xqD85RkQ

The fans flooded the lower bowl in the Vancouver end for warmups, some holding signs -- many thanking the Sedins, one responding to the Sedins' thank you to them.

"YOU'RE WECOME," it said in all caps. "IT WAS OUR PLEASURE."

The fans watched a tribute video narrated by Brian Burke, the general manager who drafted the Sedins, with comments by former coach Alain Vigneault, former teammate Roberto Luongo and others.

Then the arena went dark. The scoreboard played a montage of the Sedins, set to music. When the Canucks took the ice, two spotlights shined down -- one on each Sedin. When the starting lineup was introduced, ending with Daniel and Henrik, the place was as loud as it has been in a long, long time.

Throughout the game they cheered, during video tributes, when the Sedins touched the puck, certainly when Daniel scored in the second period, assisted by Henrik. The goal was Daniel's 22nd of the season, matching his jersey number. The time was 33 seconds, matching Henrik's. They chanted and chanted.

"Hall of Fame!" 

"Go, Sedins, go!"

"We knew it was going to be emotional," Henrik said. "We tried to stay as focused as possible. It was tough. It seemed like every time we stepped on the ice they were on their feet."

Think the Canucks wanted to win for the Sedins? They trailed 3-1 entering the third but outscored the Coyotes 2-0 and outshot them 15-0 in the period, forcing overtime.

Think the Sedins wanted to leave on a high note? Henrik played 21:36. Daniel played 21:12 and had 10 shots. All those numbers are season highs.

When Coyotes forward Richard Panik took a hooking penalty 1:16 into overtime, Green called timeout.

"It felt like something good was going to happen even though we were dead tired," Henrik said. "We asked Green for a timeout, and he gave it to us. I could barely stand up in overtime. You could feel it throughout the day, and the emotions really got to us, and you had 15 seconds of energy and you were done."

That's OK. They will have the rest of their lives to rest and remember this. They have no regrets, and they shouldn't, especially not about making their plans known and allowing such a fuss to be made. It made the storybook ending possible.

"We're quiet guys," Daniel said. "We don't really like attention. But when we got asked to go public with our decision, I think looking back now, we made the right decision. I hope the fans are happy. We are very happy to go out this way."

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