The Canucks winger, who was hampered by injuries most of the regular season, scored two goals as the Vancouver Canucks crushed the Los Angeles Kings 7-2 in the fifth game of their opening-round Stanley Cup playoff series at General Motors Place.
"It's very nice," said Bernier, who raced to recover from sports hernia surgery so that he could be ready for the post-season. "I tried to work as hard as possible to get back and be on the ice for the playoffs and be able to score goals. For sure, that's something I want to do every night, but obviously when I'm on the ice, I want to create momentum for the team. If I have a chance to score, it's always nice."
The Canucks now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can close it out with a win Sunday in Los Angeles.
Bernier, who missed 17 games in March and April, was limited to 59 altogether because his hernia did not get better during the Olympic break. Heading into the playoffs, his potential contribution was considered questionable.
But he now has three post-season goals, surpassing the two he scored in 10 playoff contests last spring. In addition to scoring Friday's first and last goals, he played important special-teams roles.
He helped Vancouver's much-maligned penalty-killing unit, which ranks last in the league in the post-season, limit the Kings to just one power-play goal, by Michal Handzus, on five chances. Bernier was not on the ice when an alert Handzus banked the puck in off defenceman Christian Ehrhoff at 14:24 of the first, briefly giving the Kings a 1-1 tie. Vancouver played two-men short for 28 seconds in the middle frame but still did not give up a goal.
"Penalty killing is all about positioning," said Bernier. "Sometimes you work a little bit too much, and it cost us goals. Tonight, we played good. We played our system and we tried to block shots and we've been able to kill some penalties tonight."
He also helped the Canucks power-play unit deliver a consistent attack, although he was not on the ice, either, when Mikael Samuelsson scored the team's lone goal with the extra man. Often criticized for getting considerable power-play time while not producing offensively, Bernier said he still provides valuable input by creating traffic in front of the net -- which his teammates appreciate.
Each member of the line finished plus-two.
"That line was real solid for us," said coach Alain Vigneault, who gambled by putting together three players frequently criticized for inconsistent play. "When Pavol competes the way he did tonight and the way he did the last two games, you can see how useful a player he is."
And now that he's healthier, Bernier is looking forward to showing just how much more useful he can be -- even if he doesn't figure in on the score sheet every game.