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Though perhaps the headline ought to read “Canucks Refuse Afraid to Lose”, this incarnation of the Canucks can finally proclaim to be battle tested.

In what was perhaps the greatest game played on home ice in franchise history (the game 6 win over the New York Rangers in the ’94 Stanley Cup Final the only other game that comes to mind), the Canucks (almost to a man) were as determined as they’ve been and got the result that had eluded them in Game 6.

In a playoff performance for the ages, Alex Burrows was at the epicentre of everything important.  Scoring the game’s first goal, drawing (and missing) an early third period penalty shot, drawing the late game penalty that seemingly was going to put the game away for the Canucks only to fail moments later on a back-checking assignment resulting in a short-handed game tying marker for Jonathan Toews.  And if that wasn’t enough, Burrows had the faithful fearing the worst while serving an overtime penalty only to later redeem himself with the winner that you’ve likely seen a dozen times.

Perhaps most satisfying for all was the prominence of Roberto Luongo, who was full value for his effort, making an overtime save on the aforementioned overtime power play, that while not as spectacular as Kirk McLean’s historic ’94 first round overtime game 7 stop, was equally timely and was made in characteristic top of his game style (anticipating the play and positioning himself so well that an unreal save almost looked routine).

The only player who seemed prominently out of sorts was captain Henrik Sedin, who is nowhere near his comfort zone.  Hopefully, the realization that there is nothing comfortable about a ride to the Stanley Cup will grab his attention soon.

But this night belonged in equal parts to Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo, who displayed the playoff jam we’ve all been yearning for.

And the faithful, who rightfully booed our heroes off the ice in game 5, were solidly behind their team all night.  And while getting the early opening goal certainly helped matters, when the Canucks surrendered the tying goal after having questionably retreated into a defensive shell for much of the third period (the likes of which we haven’t seen since the last time it didn’t work against these same Hawks), chants of “Go Canucks Go” started immediately and continued until the game was done.

The celebrating in the streets after last night’s victory seemed a little over the top, this being only the first round.  But as we all know, this was no regular first round.  This was about facing demons, vanquishing hexes and proving to themselves (and ourselves), that IT can be done.

Bring on the Predators.

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