VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks played 57 1/2 minutes of perfect defense Sunday and got what 57 1/2 minutes of perfect defense usually gets you--a scoreless tie.
That won't win a playoff game, so the Canucks went looking for the Toronto net as regulation time ran down. Cliff Ronning found it with the only goal needed, and Pavel Bure added an empty-net score in Vancouver's 2-0 victory.
That gave the Canucks a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Ronning took a return pass from Sergio Momesso and beat goaltender Felix Potvin at 17:35 of the third period.
"Serg and I like the give-and-go game," Ronning said. "We're definitely not superstars on our line.
"It's important for our hockey club to realize we have to take it a period at a time. We went with our forecheck in the third, and I think that's why we ended up winning the hockey game."
The finish seemed so sudden after a long evening of pressure-packed defense.
"Cliff Ronning found a little opening and that ended it," Toronto Coach Pat Burns said. "There wasn't much room out there, and whoever found the opening won it. They got one good one and put it away."
Vancouver goaltender Kirk McLean recorded his second consecutive shutout and tied an NHL record with his fourth of the playoffs by stopping 29 shots. McLean hasn't allowed a goal in 135 minutes 23 seconds.
He was sharp in the opening period when the Maple Leafs outshot Vancouver, 11-7. Toronto had the better chances while outshooting Vancouver, 9-4, in the second period.
The Canucks can win the best-of-seven series with a victory in Game 5 Tuesday at Vancouver.
"It is a huge win for our club," Ronning said of Sunday's game. "We still have to win one more game to get to where we all dream about playing," the NHL finals.
Vancouver hasn't been in the finals since 1982.