In a season that's seen Kevin Bieksa go from whipping boy to impact player, it was somehow fitting that the Canucks defenceman scored the goal that sent the franchise into the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 17 long years.

Bieksa scored his fourth goal of this strange series with the San Jose Sharks and fifth of the playoffs at 10:18 of the second overtime period on Tuesday at Rogers Arena to give Vancouver a 3-2 victory and the Western Conference Final in five games.

Fittingly, it was something served up by the hockey gods.

The bizarre play started when Canucks defenceman Alex Edler fired the puck down the glass along the right boards. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi expected the puck to ring around behind the net, but it hit a stanchion and skipped wildly into the high slot, right to Bieksa. He golfed a one-timer at the goal and it got past a still befuddled Niemi just inside the right post.

"To get to the Stanley Cup final is a dream come true," said Bieksa, who along with partner Dan Hamhuis, had another outstanding game. "To do it with this group of guys is something special. It's a bit surreal now, it's still fresh in our heads, but it's something you work for your entire life and it's going to be a lot of fun with this group of guys. It's a huge opportunity."

Bieksa said he was just trying not whiff on his shot." It was just a knuckle ball," said Bieksa, who logged a team-high 36:40. "I barely got enough on it to get it on net. I was just trying not to flub it and

get something on net, hoping for a tip. I didn't realize that no one else was looking.

"It was probably the ugliest goal in my career but the biggest."

It's a career that's been side-tracked by two major leg injuries in the last four seasons. Bieksa has become that elite defenceman that many predicted for him in his first full season in 2006-07.