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Cloutier makes 33 saves in his first series win

4/23/2003
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Dan Cloutier couldn't have
wished for a better birthday present Tuesday night.

Cloutier celebrated his 27th birthday with 33 saves and his
first-ever series win as the Vancouver Canucks completed their
comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to knock off the St. Louis Blues
4-1.

"Obviously I wasn't thinking too much about my birthday
today," Cloutier said with a smile. "The phones were unhooked and
cell phones were off so I could just focus on the game and not
worry about any distractions.

"Now is the perfect time to actually celebrate."

He'll have a lot of help from a city that waited eight years for
the Canucks to win a playoff series. After falling behind three
games to one, few around Vancouver expected to be celebrating
anything.

But the Canucks built some momentum with a Game 5 win and never
looked back.

"We started seeing it in their eyes here in Game 5," said
Canucks captain Markus Naslund, who scored for the fourth straight
game. "It felt like they were wearing down and started getting
tired and we just got stronger."

Trevor Linden had a goal and an assist, and Henrik Sedin and
Brendan Morrison also scored for the Canucks, who will host the
surprising Minnesota Wild on Friday night to start Round 2.

"It feels great, especially the way we did it," Cloutier said.
"Down 3-1 to battle back, we stick with it and here we are moving
on to the second round -- and what a great feeling it is."

St. Louis captain Al MacInnis was a surprise starter after being
knocked out of the series in Game 2 with a shoulder injury. But his
addition wasn't enough as the Blues failed to advance past the
opening round for the first time in three years.

"I m not a doctor, but obviously I thought I was good enough to
play," MacInnis said. "I felt I was good enough to contribute."

After two straight losses, the Blues appeared to regain some
momentum when Martin Rucinsky scored one minute into the game. But
the Canucks turned up their physical play, re-established their
forecheck and took over in the second period for the third straight
game.

"In Game 5 here we came out really hard and tried to play
physical against their D, and we just kept pounding them and
pounding them," said Todd Bertuzzi, who started the hit parade
with a crushing blow on Bryce Salvador behind the Blues' net. "We
were the more desperate team out there and it showed tonight."

Sedin tied it midway through the first period. Morrison and
Naslund made it 3-1 during a second period in which the Canucks
outshot the Blues 13-10. Vancouver outscored St. Louis 7-1 in the
second period of the last three games.

"When you're up three games to one, you expect to win one of
them," said Blues goalie Chris Osgood. "It's stunning for us to
take right now. It was right there for us and it's difficult to
take."

Morrison gave the Canucks the lead 7:20 into the second period
by charging hard to the net and banging in a rebound after Linden
shot from the high slot.

Naslund doubled the lead with his fourth goal in as many games,
beating Osgood cleanly with a power-play wrist shot from the top of
the right circle.

The Blues, who had outscored Vancouver 10-1 in the third periods
of this series, started the final period on a power play. But
Linden, who was held pointless through the first six games, snapped
a wrist shot over a diving Chris Pronger and past Osgood's glove.

"We looked like we learned a little bit from the two past
games," Naslund said.

Cloutier got caught going the wrong way after a great play by
Doug Weight on the first goal. He recovered with a handful of great
saves as the Blues outshot Vancouver 9-5 through the opening 10
minutes.

Trent Klatt did a great job keeping the puck in the St. Louis
zone on Vancouver's first goal. Daniel Sedin picked off MacInnis'
errant pass behind the Blues net and fed a blind backhand pass to
twin brother Henrik alone in front. He snapped a quick wrist shot
over Osgood's right shoulder to tie the game.

Vancouver's penalty kill, burned badly by the Blues throughout
the series, stopped all four Blues power plays. The Canucks were
1-for-6 with the man advantage.

Game notes
This was the third time the Canucks advanced after
falling behind three games to one. ... Vancouver's last series win
came in 1995 against the Blues and was clinched with a Game 7 win
in St. Louis. ... The Blues had won all six previous series in
which they took a 3-1 lead. ... Osgood has lost two straight Game
7s in the first round, including an opening-round loss against
Toronto when he was with the New York Islanders last year.

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