The first team to move on to the second round of the 2009 postseason will be the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks wrapped up a four game sweep of the St. Louis Blues with an overtime win in St. Louis, netting the winner with less than 20 seconds to go in the first overtime period. The star of this game was the star of the whole series, as Roberto Luongo remained nearly unbeatable, stopping 47 of 49 St. Louis shots.
The Canucks jumped out to a 2 goal lead early in the second period, when Alex Burrows scored his first of the game. The Blues were quick to answer, however, playing for their lives and netting two quick goals to close out the period. No one was able to find the net for the next 40 minutes of play until Burrows, known more for his lock down defensive style of play, snuck a wrist shot through the five hole of young Blues goalie Chris Mason. The overtime period was a huge testament to the play of Luongo, who kept the Canucks alive despite being outshot 10-1 at one point during the extra time.
St. Louis came into this series riding the hottest record in the NHL during the second half of the season. Unfortunately, this tight young group of talent ran into the one of the league’s hottest goalies in Luongo, and were unable to find any chinks in his armor. The Blues were without the services of some of their top players for most of the series, including superstars Paul Kariya and Eric Johnson. The Blues’ offense struggled to get anything past Luongo, and their leading scorer, Andy McDonald, finished with only 4 points.
The Canucks’ offensive numbers weren’t much better, but their veteran players were able to get points where they needed to and Luongo was there to take care of the rest. While Vancouver’s solid team defense makes them formidable for any opponent, it was the play of Luongo that won them this series, and will make them a nightmare for whoever they end up playing in the next round.