Game takes fans on ride of ecstasy
Pouring into the streets around the TD Garden in giddy celebration, triumphant Bruins fans reveled in the team’s dominant Game 6 victory last night that sent the hard-fought series to a climactic Game 7 tomorrow in Vancouver to decide the Stanley Cup.
As the team’s loyal, long-suffering fandom delighted in the decisive 5-2 win over the Canucks, their thoughts quickly turned to the ultimate goal, one that has eluded the franchise for nearly four decades. One more win, fans said in near disbelief, and the Bruins’ championship drought would finally, deliriously, wash away.
“Winning the Cup would be the biggest event as long as I’ve been alive,’’ exulted Dan Conde, a 39-year-old from Wilmington who was among the horde of fans celebrating on Canal Street, outside the Garden.
Continuing their dominance at home, the Bruins blitzed the Canucks with four goals in less than five minutes during the first period, sending fans into a frenzy at packed sports bars across the city.
The relentless barrage, which prompted the Canucks to pull their starting goalie, stunned even the most optimistic backers.
“I’m in shock,’’ said Sylvester Czado, 24, of Woonsocket, R.I., who watched the game with droves of fellow fans at a raucous Hurricane O’Reilly’s near the Garden. “I knew the Bruins were going to win, but 4-0 in a matter of 10 minutes?’’
The crowd exploded with joy after each Bruins goal, and cheered loudly for minutes afterward, as music boomed around them. The cheers grew louder as the goals piled up and fans sensed that on this night, in this place, the Bruins were not to be denied.
“There was no way the Canucks were going to come onto our ice and win the Cup,’’ said Jeff Richardson, a 31-year-old from Cranston, R.I., amid the throngs on Canal Street after the game. “They can’t light a candle in Boston.’’
As the minutes ticked away and the lead was safe, fans began bracing for tomorrow’s winner-take-all clash.
“I love the Bruins!’’ Marc Bouffard, 32, a lifelong Bruins fan from Toronto, said amid the sports bar bedlam. “They’re the best team. They are going to pull it off in seven, for sure.’’
Cristina Stefanescu, a 25-year-old who lives in the Back Bay, shared Bouffard’s confidence, even though Boston has yet to win in Vancouver.
“They clearly have it in them,’’ she said at Boston Beer Works near Fenway Park. “I think they work well under pressure. But anything can happen in the last game.’’
Alex Popp, 24, said he was not much of a fan before the Bruins began their magical playoff run. But as the crowd applauded the team’s dominating play, he felt as if he had bled black and gold for years.
“It’s all about pride,’’ he said with a whoop as the Bruins scored their first goal. When they scored their second less than a minute later, he raised his fist in triumph.
“This is what it’s all about,’’ he said. “There’s so much energy now. You can feel it.’’
Drew Carlton, 21, had only recently started following the team, but now is captive to their fortunes. Even with the Bruins comfortably ahead in the final minute, he could not take his eyes off the action.
“It’s so exciting, I can’t wait until the next game,’’ he said. “It’ll be hard if they don’t win.’’
Before the game, Bruins fans filled the streets around TD Garden in edgy anticipation of the biggest hockey game played in the city in decades.
Canal Street became a sea of black and gold, filled with Bruins faithful heading to the game. Crowds chanted “Let’s Go Bruins!’’ and jeered at Canucks fans.
Long before the game, fans lined up outside every sports bar near the Garden to make sure they could watch the big game with kindred spirits.
“We just have to be part of it,’’ said Tim Ledin, a 22-year-old from Kingston, who was in line at Sports Grille Boston. “It’s the culture. And I think if we can get back to Vancouver for Game 7, it’s ours.’’
Tim Thomas jerseys were the most popular Bruins garb, followed by anti-Vancouver T-shirts like “Vancouver Bites.’’ Vancouver has emerged as the villain in the series after one of its players bit the finger of Patrice Bergeron in a skirmish, and another player blindsided Nathan Horton with a late hit, knocking him out of the series with a severe concussion.
Still, with their team on the verge of its first title, some Canucks fans made the trip into enemy territory.
Corbin Ordel, 21, and his brother Hayden, 23, Vancouver natives now living in Montreal, rode a bus for nine hours to be here and were confident, if badly outnumbered.
“It’s worth it, even if I have to put my bones on the line, to be here in enemy territory,’’ Corbin said.
“They’ve been the best team all year, and this series has shown that,’’ echoed Hayden.
That was before the game; afterward, Canucks fans were shaken, though still hopeful.
“We got kicked,’’ said Tom Larisch of North Vancouver, who flew to Boston on a late flight to catch the game. “We got kicked in Boston.’’
Larisch, 31, was heading back home for Game 7, and predicted the outcome was “50-50.’’
Rachel Shoppe, 27, a hard-core Bruins fan in a black Milan Lucic jersey, was also worried about tomorrow’s game. “If we can ride out this win and stay on that high, I think we can pull it out,’’ she said.
But Justin Rogers, 30, of Brighton, sensed that a title was imminent.
“If they skate like they skated tonight and hit like they did tonight and keep that physicality, they’re going to be tough to beat,’’ Rogers said. “And of course Timmy [Thomas] has to play like he has.’’
In a back-and-forth series filled with taunts, trash-talking, and tough play, the Bruins came out flying and rarely let up, giving nervous fans some much-appreciated breathing room. Still, fans fretted until late in the game. After Vancouver scored its first goal, Sara John, 24, of Boston cringed as she watched the Canucks celebrate. “This kills me,’’ she said.
But in the end, fans like Molly Owen, 22, said it felt like “everything is coming together.’’
“All I can do is be hopeful now that we’ll win in the end,’’ she said.
Globe correspondents Stewart Bishop and Neal J. Riley contributed to this report. Peter Schworm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; John Guilfoil at email@example.com; and David Abel at firstname.lastname@example.org.