Wed May 25 01:13am EDT
Defenseman Kevin Bieksa(notes) of the Vancouver Canucks was the only person on the ice, at 10:18 of the second overtime of Game 5, who knew where the puck was: Wobbling off his stick and behind the San Jose Sharks' goalie, winning Game 5 of the Western Conference finals and sending the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994:
Attempting to send the puck deep in the Sharks zone, defenseman Alex Edler instead sent the puck off a stanchion on the glass. It ricocheted to Bieksa, who blasted a knuckleball of a one-timer past Niemi.
"I've been here for seven years, and I've never seen a puck go off that partition and kick right out like that," said Bieksa on VERSUS. "I just tried to get enough wood on it to get it to the net."
Confetti fell as the officials conferred on what had just transpired, but the game was over. The Canucks celebrated as vociferously as the thousands of their fans did inside and outside the arena, clinching the conference finals with a 3-2 victory and a 4-1 series win.
It was an odd goal. But in many ways, it was a surreal goal -- especially since it was the 17th anniversary to the day of another double-OT goal that put the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals.
On May 24, 1994, Greg Adams sent another Canucks team to within four wins of the Cup with a double-overtime goal.
Maybe you believe in the Hockey Gods, and maybe you don't. But the surreal nature of Bieksa's goal doesn't end there. The weird deflection happened in the same part of the rink that helped set up the Canucks' game-tying goal late in the third period.
Check out the deflection by Daniel Sedin(notes) on a Dan Boyle(notes) clearing attempt that the officials missed, which led to Ryan Kesler's(notes) game-tying goal at 19:46 with Roberto Luongo(notes) pulled.
Did a missed call on an icing cost the Sharks the game? Of course not. Neither did a bad bounce in double overtime. San Jose played an outstanding game for its survival, and came up short. The Canucks were the better team for most of this series, and proved it again in Game 5.
The question now: Can this Vancouver team do what that one in 1994 couldn't, and what no Canadian team has done since 1993?
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