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Vancouver's Lapierre finds success to the max after leaving Ducks

June 13, 2011 | 11:31 am

Maxime3
If you blinked, you might have missed Maxim Lapierre’s Ducks career.

Lapierre, known as an agitator and trash-talker but valued as a third- or fourth-line player, was acquired by the Ducks from Montreal last New Year’s Eve for defenseman Brett Festerling and a fifth-round pick in the 2012 entry draft. Born in the Montreal neighborhood of Saint-Leonard and unhappy about leaving the Canadiens, he never seemed effective and didn’t bring much of his infamous edge to Anaheim.

The Ducks traded him to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 28 with prospect MacGregor Sharp for Joel Perrault and a third-round pick in 2012. In between, he played 21 mostly unremarkable games in which he picked up three assists and nine penalty minutes.

But Lapierre found a good fit with the Canucks, who on Monday were one victory over the Boston Bruins away from winning the Stanley Cup.

Lapierre has centered for Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen on a very effective third line and he scored the only goal in Game 5 last Friday at Vancouver, capturing the carom of a shot that bounced off the end boards and flipping it off Boston goaltender Tim Thomas and into the net.

In essence, he’s doing everything the Ducks had hoped he would do for them.

“It’s not that it didn’t work out. It was a really short period of time and it was a new life for me,” Lapierre said Monday of his brief stay in Anaheim. “It was the first time I was leaving home and the first time I was traded in my life. I didn’t have enough time to get comfortable.

“Everything happens for a reason and I am happy to be here today.”

Being moved again, and so soon, had his head spinning.

“I didn’t really know what to think. It was the second time I got traded in less than three months,” he said. “But at one point I said, ‘I’ve got to get out of that and play like I’ve played in the past,’ and they gave me a lot of chances here. They were patient with me. And I got my confidence back and now everything is all right.”

It helped that he had played junior hockey for current Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault, who worked with him extensively and persuaded Lapierre to tone down his yapping. Still, Lapierre had only one goal in 19 regular-season games with the Canucks and had to win over his critics during the playoffs.

Not that Lapierre has completely reformed — his exaggerated reaction to a mild jab from Boston’s Zdeno Chara in Game 5 was absurdly theatrical and didn’t get the penalty call he had hoped for. But the Canucks have scored only six goals in the series and he has had a hand in two of them, having assisted on Hansen’s goal in Game 3 before scoring the winner in Game 5.

“He gave me a lot of time to get my confidence back and the ice time,” Lapierre said of Vigneault. “He was really good with me. They showed me a lot of video and they gave me a good chance.”

A chance that has led him within one victory of winning the Cup.

Check back later at www.latimes.com/sports for more coverage of Game 6.

RELATED:

Statistics don't tell the story of this Stanley Cup finals matchup

Goaltenders go back and forth about varying style

-- Helene Elliott, in Boston

Photo: Maxim Lapierre celebrates after scoring the winning goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins on Friday. Credit: Ben Nelms / Reuters

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