4-23-07 - The Vancouver Canucks got past the first round for the second time since 1995. The Dallas Stars are going home quickly for a third straight season.
Trevor Linden scored the go-ahead goal on a power play seven minutes into the third period to lift the Canucks to a 4-1 Game 7 win on Monday night, ending the Stars attempt to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series.
Linden, a former Canucks captain playing in his ninth career Game 7 for Vancouver, tipped Mattias Ohlund's quick point shot through the legs of Stars goalie Marty Turco, the puck barely trickling over the goal line inside the far post.
Bryan Smolinski and Taylor Pyatt added empty-net goals, Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist, and Roberto Luongo made 19 saves for the Canucks, who will start the second round in Anaheim on Wednesday night.
"Yeah, it was a tight series the whole way," Luongo said. "We worked hard all year and it's nice to get rewarded like that."
Turco finished with 28 saves and Mike Modano sent a shot off the post and crossbar with four minutes left as the Stars, who were forced to play Game 7 without top defenseman Sergei Zubov, exited the playoffs in the first round for a third straight season.
After being shut out by Turco for two straight games as Dallas climbed back from a 3-1 series deficit, the Canucks battled back in Game 7.
Joel Lundqvist scored late in the first period for Dallas before Sedin finally ended Turco's shutout streak on the power play with 4:48 left in the second period.
After shutting out the Canucks in Games 5 and 6, Turco started strong in Game 7. He made four fantastic saves to kill off a 5-on-3 Canucks power play early in the second before Sedin finally beat him on another power play with 4:48 left in the period, ending his career-best shutout streak at 165:45.
Sedin was alone to the left of Turco and quickly snapped in a blind cross-ice backhand pass from brother Daniel off the far boards, ending a lengthy drought for both the identical twins and the Canucks power play.
It was the first point for either Sedin since combining on the game-winner late in the fourth overtime of Game 1, and the first Vancouver power-play goal since earlier in that first game. The Canucks had failed to convert 26 straight chances and were just 1-for-31 in the series before Henrik Sedin finally scored.
For a change, Turco was the busier goaltender and he was ready. In addition to the 5-on-3, he stopped Henrik Sedin from the slot on another power play early in the third period, and Pyatt's shot from 20 feet shortly after.
But the trips to the penalty box continued for Dallas with two more early in the third, and Linden made the Stars pay with the sixth Game 7 goal of his career.
Luongo took over from there. He'd only seen one shot in the third period -- just five since the end of the first -- when Linden scored. But he robbed Stu Barnes from the slot with his glove three minutes later and got two breaks late.
First, Mike Ribeiro couldn't get the handle on a loose puck at the side of the net with Luongo sprawled, failing to jam it into an empty net before Kevin Bieksa cleared it. Then Mike Modano's one-timer with four minutes left hit the inside of the seam between the post and the crossbar and ricocheted out.
Only Lundqvist beat Luongo, scoring with 3:38 left in the first period after winning a one-on-one rush with Bieksa by using him as a screen and snapping a 35-foot wrist shot past Luongo's glove and in off the top of the post.
It's the third straight first-round playoff exit for the Stars, who came in as the sixth seed despite 107 regular-season points, two more than the Canucks, who got the higher seeding -- and home ice in Game 7 -- by winning the Northwest Division.
Under criticism for an 8-14 playoff record and career save percentage that dropped from .914 in the regular season to .892 in the postseason, Turco was among the leaders at .951.
But Luongo was just as good, answering questions about how he'd fare in his first playoff series by stopping 228 of 240 shots for a .950 save percentage.