Alex Burrows erases biting criticism
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Alex Burrows' father couldn't stomach all the negative press his son was getting from "Bite-gate," so he reached out to his son and recommended a simple strategy.
Go out and score some goals so the media can focus on something different.
"The negative press I've been getting the last few days doesn't affect me at all," Burrows said. "I don't read you guys or listen to you guys a lot. But it affects my parents. My dad listens to everything and obviously it affects him. He told me to go score some goals. I listened to his advice tonight."
Burrows, who some believed should have been suspended for Game 2 after biting Patrice Bergeron's finger in the opener, scored 11 seconds into overtime to cap a three-point Vancouver night and hand the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 win and 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals.
Talk about a shot in the gut for the Bruins. They lose another heartbreaker, and it's Burrows with a pair of goals on top of it. The ultimate may have been Burrows fighting off Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on his wrap-around for the winner.
"To outreach a guy of Chara's size and outbattle him and finish it off, it shows something about his work ethic and his will," Canucks star Ryan Kesler said.
It capped a struggling night for Chara, who played a game-high 28:12 but appeared to run out of gas as the night went along.
"I knew [Chara] was coming when I was faking the shot," Burrows said. "But after that I just knew the net was open and wanted to put it in. I didn't feel anyone."
As in, where the heck was Chara?
The goal was an early stunner. It brought back memories of Brian Skrudland scoring early in Game 2 of the 1986 Stanley Cup finals, just nine seconds in.
"Danny [Sedin] made a perfect chip," Burrows said. "I had a little bit of room. Our pre-scout of Timmy Thomas is that he likes to challenge, so if I shoot there he just stops it because he was covering all the angles. So I wanted to walk around and shoot it right away, but I lost it a little bit. I was lucky to get it back and wrap it."
For Burrows, his clutch spring just keeps getting better. Make it nine goals in the playoffs, tied for the team lead with Daniel Sedin, and don't forget his Game 7 OT winner against Chicago in the quarterfinals is the only reason the Canucks are even here.
"Anybody that follows our team knows he's a really important part of our team," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "He plays 5-on-5, he plays power play and he kills penalties. So, you know, he's overall one of our go-to guys. Again tonight he came up big in key moments."
Not bad for a guy who played for the likes of the Greenville Grrrowl, Baton Rouge Kingfish and Columbia Inferno, all of the ECHL, in the seasons leading up the NHL lockout. Undrafted by any NHL team, Burrows epitomizes what hard work and dedication can do for a career.
But did he ever see himself scoring the big goals in overtime?
"In street hockey, a lot," he smiled. "But ice hockey, normally in the first few years of my career I was on the bench for those kinds of moments. You have to pay your dues and work your way up. I think I've worked hard to be in those moments. And I'm playing with two world-class players that are going to make my job easier to get on the board."
Ah yes, the Sedin twins. They were mostly silent for the opening 35 minutes of the game, but right on cue they began raising their game when their team needed them most. Daniel Sedin tied it 2-2 at 9:37 of the third period after taking a nice feed from Burrows. The twins were all over the Bruins the entire period.
"I thought the twins, that line really took over in the third and spent a lot of time in their end wearing down their defense," Vigneault said. "It paid off for us. We were able to tie the game."
The Canucks could sense the Bruins wearing down.
"I thought we took over five minutes left in the second period," Henrik Sedin said. "You could see they were maybe a little bit tired and that's when we came hard at them."
Two games in a row the Canucks have pushed the pace to another level in the third period and left the Bruins gasping for air.
"Yeah, if you look at our stats during the regular season, I think we were the best team in the third period as far as scoring goals," Vigneault said. "So that hasn't changed throughout the playoffs. We can push the pace and create scoring chances. I thought we did tonight."
Outside Rogers Arena on Saturday night, the party in the streets was just beginning. The Canucks head to Beantown with the 2-0 series lead they sought to have before they jumped on the plane.
"It's huge, obviously, but we haven't won anything yet. We only took care of home ice," Burrows said. "And it was tough, they're a good team over there. They're going to feed off their home crowd. It won't be easy. Until you win a road game you're not in control of any series."
Maybe not, but right now the Canucks seem to be able to find a gear the Bruins cannot.
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.