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Stanley Cup finals Game 5: Canucks defeat Bruins, 1-0, to move within one victory of title

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The Vancouver Canucks moved to within one victory of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993 while ending the franchise’s four decades of frustration.

Maxim Lapierre flipped home the rebound of a shot by Kevin Bieksa that had caromed off the end boards behind Boston goaltender Tim Thomas at 4:35 of the third period and Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo stopped 31 shots as the Canucks defeated the Bruins, 1-0, Friday night at Rogers Arena.

The triumph gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup finals and put them in position to win the Cup on Monday at Boston’s TD Garden. A seventh game, if necessary, will be played Wednesday at Vancouver.

The Canucks’ victory continued home teams’ success in each game of the series. The Bruins swamped the Canucks by a combined 12-1 in Games 3 and 4 but were unable to get anything past Luongo on Friday.

In the 21 previous Cup finals that were tied at 2-2, the club that won Game 5 won the Cup 15 times (71%).
Lapierre, primarily an agitator and get-under-your-skin kind of player, provided the only goal the Canucks needed Friday.

Bieksa had previously tried shooting the puck off the boards to get it to carom into the slot for a scoring chance but the play hadn’t worked. It worked when the Canucks needed it most, as Lapierre beat Thomas to the goalie’s right. Thomas had blanked the Canucks for 110 minutes and 42 seconds over three games.

The first period was scoreless but lively because of the furious pace and consistent physicality. The Canucks got the game’s first three penalties but escaped unscathed.

Each team had a player sent to the box with 33 seconds remaining in the period, after Boston’s Milan Lucic tripped Vancouver’s Alex Burrows and both were penalized. The call on Lucic was tripping and the call on Burrows was unsportsmanlike conduct for embellishing the trip, and both were correctly made by officials who exerted their authority before anything stupid could happen. A few moments earlier, Lapierre had taken a jab in the ribs from Boston’s Zdeno Chara and tried to sell it as an offense worthy of life imprisonment. The officials clearly didn’t want to see any more antics and made sure players knew it.

The Bruins outshot the Canucks, 12-6, in the opening period with Luongo regaining fans’ affection by making several excellent stops. He had a point-blank stop on Patrice Bergeron during Boston’s third power play and drew roars from the crowd.

The second period was scoreless, too. The Canucks had an edge in shots, 12-9, but neither team could finish anything off.

The Canucks had the best chance about 12 minutes and 40 seconds into the period. That’s when defenseman Chris Tanev, inserted into the lineup in place of Keith Ballard, made an excellent pass that put Tanner Glass in alone deep on the left side. Thomas was out of position and the net was probably half-empty for Glass, but he fanned on the shot while fans groaned in frustration.

Each team had surges when it exerted some pressure but neither managed to succeed. The Bruins had one power play during the period and the Canucks had two.

The intensity, already high, rose to nerve-jangling levels in the third period. Fans roared and waved souvenir rally towels and used body English to help keep the puck out of the Canucks’ net as their team edged closer to winning hockey’s biggest prize.

--Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada

Photo: Canucks center Manny Malhotra celebrates a goal by teammate Maxim Lapierre (not shown) against goaltender Tim Thomas and his Bruins teammates on Friday night. Credit: Jonathan Hayward / Associated Press

 
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