With overtime a near-certainty in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, Raffi Torres scored with 19 seconds left in the third period to give the Vancouver Canucks a 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins Wednesday at Rogers Arena.
The crowd erupted in roars after Torres got the puck past an otherwise splendid Tim Thomas, set up perfectly by Jannik Hansen and the always gritty Ryan Kesler.
The goal ended a penalty-filled game that produced many good scoring chances but no goals until Torres beat Thomas from about 15 feet out. Roberto Luongo stopped 36 Boston shots to earn the shutout. Thomas stopped 33 shots.
The Canucks have won the opening game of each of their four playoff series this spring. Another good omen for them: Teams winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win the championship in 55 of 71 seasons (77%) since the NHL introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939.
The Canucks, who had to juggle their lineup to accommodate injuries all season, lost defenseman Dan Hamhuis four minutes into the second period to an undisclosed injury. Hamhuis, poised and steady, had flipped Boston’s Milan Lucic in a textbook hip check but appeared to have been hurt on the play.
The Canucks will have a few days to figure out what to do, given that Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday in Vancouver.
We'll have more on the game soon at latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada
Photo: Vancouver's Raffi Torres, center right, celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal in the closing seconds of the Canucks' 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday. Credit: Andy Clark / Reuters