Seventeen years of frustration for Vancouver Canucks fans disappeared with a single slapshot - and they wasted no time letting that frustration out.
Thousands of fans poured into the city's downtown core after Kevin Bieksa sent the Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1994. The largest hangout was outside the CBC, where fans sardine-canned their way onto an outdoor plaza to watch the event on a large screen.
Dressed in cape-flags and armed with a seemingly insatiable desire to high-five everyone around them, fans erupted after Bieksa's double-overtime goal eliminated the San Jose Sharks.
Some wrapped their arms around each other and bounced up and down. Others held their hands over their mouths, or their rapidly-beating hearts. One person was so overcome by the excitement she simply fainted and had to be helped up by those around her.
Within minutes, Robson Street was filled with honking cars. Granville was the pedestrian hub, and revellers chanted, "We want the cup!"
The city might still be marred in some people's eyes by the Stanley Cup riot of 1994. After the Canucks were defeated in Game 7 by the New York Rangers, more than 200 people were injured and $1-million in damage was caused. But last month the city praised the maturity of the fans and said it's not expecting a repeat incident. No major incidents were reported Tuesday night.
That left fans to hoot and holler, or, in the case of some, to simply sit back and take it all in.
Albert Cohen, a mathematics professor who grew up in Vancouver but now works at Michigan State University, flew back just so he could be in the city when - not if - his team advanced.
Sporting a vintage black Canucks jersey, Mr. Cohen at times appeared overcome by emotion. When asked if he would stick around for an eventual Stanley Cup parade, he chuckled and said, "You're going to make me cry."
"When you're gone for such a long time, there are very few connections you can have to a city that's 3,000 miles away. The Canucks are it for me," he said.
"It's one of those feelings, like you don't know when it's going to set in. It still hasn't hit me that we're going back to the finals. God willing, third time's the charm."
One of the most popular Canucks fans appeared to be Parmvir Thind, who arrived at the game with a large Stanley Cup he made out of metal and tin foil. Mr. Thind posed for pictures with the prop, and drew his fair share of attention from the TV cameras.
He had been up until 3 a.m. Tuesday morning making the cup - but that didn't mean he had any intention of going to sleep.
"Party!" he said when asked what he was going to do next.
"Oh my god, this city just erupted. Oh my god, there's better to come. ... I don't even know what happened. I'm just so happy right now."
Laura Landry and a friend took the day off from work Tuesday so they could travel to Vancouver from Nanaimo. Watching the game on the outdoor plaza, they said the trip was undoubtedly worth it. Ms. Landry has been a long-time Canucks fan - though she didn't want to say for exactly how long.
"Well, the Canucks have been around like 40 years and not to give my age away ... but since Day 1."
The crowd outside the CBC was a diverse mix - old, young, Caucasian, ethnic. All had their eyes glued to the screen, whether they were sitting in chairs or uncomfortable slabs of concrete.
There was a shouting match at one point and a woman was escorted away by police.
Fans had nervous looks on their faces as their team was down late in the third period. When Ryan Kesler scored to send the game to overtime, it was bedlam. Fans cheered throughout the intermission and into the first overtime, where for some, standing was a more palatable option than sitting.
Bieksa's goal, which came after a strange bounce of the puck off the glass, caught many off-guard. But they didn't need to know how the puck got in the net to be happy it got there at all.Report Typo/Error