Cloutier makes 33 saves in his first series win

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Dan Cloutier couldn't have

wished for a better birthday present Tuesday night.

The  Canucks celebrate victory over the Blues after winning Game 7 Tuesday night.
The Canucks celebrate victory over the Blues after winning Game 7 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.