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Stanley Cup finals: Canucks defeat Bruins, 3-2, in overtime to take 2-0 lead in series

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Alexandre Burrows can be a world-class player when he’s not biting opponents’ fingers or going on head-hunting missions.

He proved it Saturday in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals by scoring the first and last goals and assisting on the second goal of the Vancouver Canucks’ 3-2 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks will take a two games to none series lead to Boston’s TD Garden for Game 3 on Monday.

Burrows’ superb individual effort in overtime capped a comeback by the Canucks and set off celebrations in the arena and around the city. He pursued the puck behind the net and tried a wraparound shot with goaltender Tim Thomas out of position, only to be foiled when the puck hit the outside of the net. But he stayed with it, fending off Zdeno Chara to tuck the puck into the net 11 seconds into sudden-death play.

With their opening-night jitters out of the way, both teams aggressively dished out teeth-rattling hits in the first period. The Canucks, already drawing on the crowd’s energy, got an additional lift with the return of center Manny Malhotra from a severe eye injury.

Malhotra, who has undergone several surgical procedures since he was struck in the left eye by a deflected puck on March 16, got a standing ovation when he came out for his first shift, at 1:48 of the first period. He won his first faceoff, against Boston’s Chris Kelly, and played 2:52 in the period. He lost the only other faceoff he took.

The Canucks scored the only goal of the first period, during a power play. Ryan Kesler, who seemed wobbly after taking a hard hit from Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk about three minutes into the period, looked just fine when he tried to get the puck through the legs of Chara in the Bruins’ zone. Chara impeded him and was sent off for interference at 10:24.

The Canucks made their own luck to set up the goal. Defenseman Sami Salo made a good play along the boards to keep in an attempted clearing pass by Boston’s Andrew Ference and then got the puck toward the net. Chris Higgins touched it before Burrows took a meek-looking shot that trickled past Thomas at 12:12.

If the NHL’s justice system made any sense Burrows wouldn’t have been playing: he bit the finger of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 on Wednesday and probably should have been suspended.

The Bruins finally solved Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo in the second period. After being stymied on 36 shots in Game 1 and their first 20 on Saturday they got the better of him twice and took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

Boston pulled even at the nine-minute mark, as East Vancouver native Milan Lucic converted the rebound of a shot by Boychuk.

The Bruins continued to exert pressure, which led the Canucks to take a penalty, which led to -- gasp -- a power-play goal for the Bruins, their first in the finals and only their sixth in 69 advantages during the playoffs. Mark Recchi scored it by deftly redirecting a shot by Chara past Luongo at 11:35.

Thomas helped preserve that lead with a spectacular, sliding save on a shot by Jannik Hansen, sliding from his left to his right to get in front of Hansen’s close-in attempt.

Forced to rally, the Canucks struggled to escape Boston’s stifling defense and finally succeeded at 9:37 of the third. Burrows made a terrific turnaround pass to Daniel Sedin for a short wrist shot that eluded a helpless Thomas and reignited the crowd’s enthusiasm.

Since the best-of-seven finals format was introduced in 1939, 42 of the 46 teams that won Games 1 and 2 went on to win the Cup. Of the 34 home teams that won the first two games, 32 won the series.

The only teams that won the Cup after losing the first two games on the road were the 1971 Montreal Canadiens, who defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games, and the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, who beat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games.

--Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada

Photo: Canucks center Henrik Sedin celebrates after his brother Daniel (not pictured) beat Bruins defender Zdeno Chara and goaltender Tim Thomas for a goal in the third period Saturday during Game 2 in Vancouver. Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin / US Presswire

 
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