VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Roberto Luongo got more than two games worth of playing time in his first career postseason start.
Luongo made 72 saves before Henrik Sedin scored 18:06 into the fourth overtime to lift the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars in the opening game of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday night.
“I got all the experience I needed in one game,” said Loungo, who finished one save short of Kelly Hrudey’s playoff record.
Daniel Sedin came out from behind the net and spotted his identical twin brother cutting into the slot, where Henrik snapped a shot between the legs of Marty Turco, ending the sixth longest playoff game in NHL history in the early hours of Thursday morning.
“It’s a big relief,” Henrik Sedin said. “Personally I felt better the longer the game went, got my legs going in the fifth and sixth periods. It was a strange game but it was fun to play.”
Luongo did set the record for saves in a first career playoff start as the Canucks recovered after blowing a two-goal lead. When Antii Miettinen and Ladislav Nagy scored in the third period to rally the Stars from a 4-2 deficit and force overtime, no one could have predicted it would last so long.
It took more than five hours for Vancouver to grab a lead in the best-of-seven series scheduled to continue in Vancouver on Friday, less than 42 hours after the conclusion of Game 1.
“It’s such a long time ago, I don’t even remember,” Loungo said of the blown lead. “It was my first game and I was a little bit nervous out there but once we get the first one out of the way I’ll feel fine.”
Both teams had earlier chances to win on the power play.
The Stars couldn’t convert a 39-second, 5-on-3 advantage early in the second overtime. Vancouver only managed one long shot while goalie Marty Turco cleared the zone himself three times on a power play midway through the first overtime.
Luongo made three huge stops early in the second overtime. He turned aside Jere Lehtinen and Nagy in tight, and robbed Mattias Norstrom with his glove. He got a break when Stu Barnes hit the crossbar in the final minute.
“It’s really disappointing right now,” said Turco, who made 51 saves but lost a fifth straight playoff overtime decision. “We had big chances to win a game tonight. It’s frustrating, yeah, but I’m sure it can be turned into a positive, too. It’s just tough right now to think like that but we carried the play.”
Markus Naslund gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead with 6:13 left in the second period and Bryan Smolinski pushed the advantage to two goals 7:36 into the third after a point shot bounced off the end boards and into the crease with Turco looking the other way. But Miettinen batted in a rebound less than a minute later, and he helped set up Nagy’s tying goal under Luongo’s blocker with 6:14 left.
“There is just the one positive: We can beat them. There’s no doubt about that in here,” Turco said.
As Turco tried to overcome a history of poor playoff performances, a towel-waving sellout crowd of 18,630 started chanting his name 7 seconds into the game. It only got louder when Sedin opened the scoring 4 minutes later with a pass from behind the net that bounced in off the skate of defenseman Darryl Sydor.
Dallas tied it 68 seconds later after Morrow drew a penalty on a 2-on-1 rush, then converted the ensuing power play with a quick shot from the slot.
After a tight-checking, regular-season series—the teams split four games with all ending 2-1—the Stars and Canucks opened the playoffs with a sloppy, penalty-filled first period that gave both teams four power plays.
Ohlund restored the lead with a power-play one-timer from the point and through traffic 6:26 into the second period, but Daley tied it again midway through the period.
Naslund broke the tie after jumping off the bench and onto a turnover inside the Dallas blue line, skating in alone and snapping a shot through Turco’s legs. Dallas coach Dave Tippett was incensed as replays showed Naslund came on for Trevor Linden, who was still on the ice a few feet from the bench.
Vancouver lost LW Matt Cooke late in the second period with a strained groin. LW Alexandre Burrows left in the first overtime after looking wobbly trying to get up after being hit face first into the glass by Stephane Robidas. … Canucks C Ryan Kesler made surprising return a little more than 10 weeks after undergoing hip surgery that was supposed to keep him out 12-to-16 weeks. … Vancouver D Brent Sopel didn’t play after hurting his back trying to pick up a cracker from the floor Tuesday, coach Alain Vigneault said. Rory Fitzpatrick took his place. … Dallas C Eric Lindros didn’t travel to Vancouver because of a groin injury, and RW Matthew Barnaby sat out due to a concussion.