The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks continued to take the Stanley Cup finals to extreme, reducing the best-of-seven series to a winner-takes-all finale Wednesday at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena.
The Bruins, dominant at home but unable to manufacture much offense on the road, earned a season-saving 5-2 victory Monday at TD Garden on the strength of a first-period scoring spree that set a record for the fastest four goals by one team in a Cup finals game. The home team has won each game in this series, the Canucks’ biggest reason for optimism after a weak effort Monday by goaltender Roberto Luongo and just about everyone who played in front of him.
Boston’s Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Andrew Ference and Michael Ryder triggered roars from the crowd by scoring within a span of 4 minutes and 14 seconds, and David Krejci added a goal during a five-on-three advantage in the second period. The previous record for fastest four goals by one team was 5:29, set by Montreal against Detroit on March 31, 1956.
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was beaten by Henrik Sedin’s second-period backhander, Sedin’s first point of the series, and a late third-period goal by Maxim Lapierre.
The Canucks had the powerful motivation Monday of knowing the Stanley Cup was in the house and ready to be polished and presented to them to take home for the summer, but even that wasn’t enough for them to win a game on the road. They were outscored, 17-3, in three games at Boston and Luongo was pulled twice.
But the Canucks outscored the Bruins, 5-2, in the first three games at Vancouver, including a pair of 1-0 shutouts by Luongo, and they will enjoy the comforts of home again on Wednesday for Game 7.
The Canucks, who entered the NHL in the 1970-71 season, have never won the Cup. The Bruins haven’t won since 1972, the era of the Big Bad Bruins.
Another long wait could end Wednesday: no Canada-based team has won the Cup since 1993, when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Kings, and fans there have hungered to bring Lord Stanley’s trophy home where they feel it belongs.
The tone for the Canucks was somber from the first minute, when a hit by Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk sent winger Mason Raymond awkwardly into the boards. Raymond was bent over and facing the boards when Boychuck shoved him and fell awkwardly, causing a stoppage 20 seconds in. He was slow to get up and needed help to leave the ice. The Bruins later announced he had been taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of an undisclosed injury.
Luongo, who said he would have stopped the one shot that eluded Thomas in Game 5 and also complained that Thomas hadn’t said anything nice about him, should have paid more attention to his own performance than to Thomas’ style. Luongo looked bad on the Bruins’ first two goals and was replaced by Cory Schneider after the third, a power-play goal.
Marchand got the rampage going at 5:31, firing a shot into the upper-right corner of the net from the right circle. A nifty behind-the-back pass by Rich Peverley set up Lucic in the right circle at 6:06.
Boston scored again, while Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler was serving a boarding penalty. Andrew Ference was credited with the goal, which appeared to deflect before it eluded Luongo.
Schneider replaced Luongo after that goal, at 8:35, but he didn’t have much better luck. He was beaten at 9:45 by Michael Ryder’s redirection of a shot by Tomas Kaberle.
All that was left was the final accounting, which added up to a strange series of extremes and a climactic finale Wednesday.
--Helene Elliott, in Boston
Photo: Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas blocks a shot by Vancouver's Jannik Hansen during Game 6 on Monday night at TD Garden in Boston. Credit: Jim Rogash / Getty Images