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Thousands of Canucks fans celebrate Game 5 victory

Vancouver Canucks fans pose with a giant replica of the Stanley Caup before the Canucks play the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff in Vancouver

BEN NELMS/Ben Nelms/Reuters

With one, third-period goal from Vancouver Canuck Maxim Lapierre, Vancouver fans rejoiced - and exhaled.

And as the game concluded with the lead - modest as it was - intact, fans leapt, screamed, cheered and cried to celebrate a victory that put the Canucks, and the city, back on their feet.

"We were so amazing," gushed Melissa Crawford, a Winnipeg-native who has been following the Canucks for about 15 years and was among thousands who jammed a downtown plaza to watch the game on a giant television screen. "Luongo played so much better, he had a much better team behind him."

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Fans jammed downtown streets and cars honked incessantly.

Ms. Crawford and her husband Tim had driven 12 hours from Edmonton and had been prepared to call it a night if the Canucks lost.

With the win, they and thousands more planned to stay downtown and celebrate.

"I guess it'll be pretty busy, eh?" Mr. Crawford said.

At the intersection of Georgia and Granville streets, police high-fived fans as they streamed by, many waving flags or carrying banners.

The mood was boisterous and exuberant, with chants of "one more game" and "we want the cup" ringing through the streets.

Francois Lebel, a Montreal resident in Vancouver on business, walked along through the crowd with a slightly wistful look.

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"I am from Montreal, so I get this," he said of the celebration unfolding before him. Asked for whom he was cheering, he said the Canucks.

"I am a Habs fan, so I wanted to see the Bruins crushed."

In front of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, escapees from a black-tie dinner bolted outside to take in the mood.

"We have done no business whatsoever," said Shelley Nelson, a White Rock resident who was in town for the annual general meeting of the Electrical Contractors Association. "We had dinner served at half-time," she said, as she stood on a street corner in a chic dress and high heels to wave and holler to fans as they walked by on Georgia Street.

For Canuck fans, Game Five felt like Game Seven - a do-or-die affair that could put the Canucks back on track after they were pummeled by the Bruins in Boston in the previous two games.

Downtown streets closed early to accommodate public viewing and the Vancouver Police Department was out in force.

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Thousands of jersey-clad fans gathered downtown, many waving flags and hockey sticks, blowing vuvuzelas and shouting cheers.

With every save that Roberto Luongo made, the crowd responded in unison, "Luuu!"

Vishal Lekhi, who had driven four hours from Summerland to Vancouver just to watch the game on the big screen, predicted a 3-2 win in overtime.

The crowd at CBC Plaza erupted into deafening cheers when the game ended with a 1-nothing win for the Canucks. For a few minutes, the scene was a blur of fans hugging and high-fiving each other, hoisting each other on their shoulders, throwing their white towels into the air and jumping up and down.

The crowd had already anticipated a win soon after Lapierre scored in third period. With eight minutes left, many began to make their way to the downtown core to celebrate.

With every save by Luongo, the crowded responded in enthusiastic unison, "Luuu!"

Vishal Lekhi, from Summerland, had predicted a 3-2 win in overtime, but he was perfectly happy with 1-0.

"Oh my God, I can't talk, I've lost my voice," he said, trying to shout over the noise as he pumped the air with a hockey stick to which he had attached a teddy bear with a bruised eyes and a letter B on its chest to symbolize a Bruins defeat. Earlier, he had predicted that the Canucks would win Game 5, lose Game 6 and win Game 7.

"I knew the Canucks were going to come back and play the way they did in games one and two," he said, adding that he was going to now "party it up" on Granville St.

At Kino, a bar a couple of blocks north of City Hall outside of downtown, normally a flamenco joint, joy reverberated. The packed bar- with onlookers outside- erupted with cheers when the Canucks finally scored.

Admidst the sea of blue was lone Bruins fan John Naples in his yellow and black Boston jersey who, despite the loss, was in high spirits.

"I'm disappointed, but everyone wins at home, we'll get them next time," he said. "It's not over yet." As he spoke, many surrounding Canucks fans shouted to him, "Go home! Boston sucks!" One even blew her vuvuzela into his ear, while another pushed him.

But Mr. Naples took it all in good stride, saying he expected to get some grief from Canucks fans. Both he and his buddy Mike Wong--a Canucks fan--had flown in from Boston Friday morning.

"It's tough," Mr. Wong said, referring to their opposing hockey allegiances, "But we're buddies. If Canucks win, he'll shave his head and if Bruins win, I'll shave mine."

The Vancouver Police Department, which after each game in the finals has reported scores of liquor pour-outs and tickets for offences such as public urination and traffic violations, on its twitter feed reminded fans of the potential cost of such infractions, tweeting: "Drinking in public: $230. Peeing in public: $230. Watching a playoff game with thousands of new fans: priceless."

As fans streamed toward Robson street, police closed parts of Robson street and at least one other downtown street to vehicles, re-rerouting buses and providing more room for the crowds to move.

With a report from David Ebner

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