Hanging low, but headed home
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Don’t look to Tim Thomas for an answer.
“I don’t know where he came from,’’ sighed the Bruins goaltender. “I don’t know if he won the faceoff, or we won the faceoff.’’
The one thing everyone in the building saw was Thomas sprawled on the ice behind and to the right of the net and the dastardly Alex (The Chomper) Burrows, whom some thought should not even have been allowed to play in last night’s game, circling behind the net on the classic wraparound move and slipping it into a vast expanse of nothingness to give the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 overtime victory and a 2-0 series advantage in the Stanley Cup Final.
Oops, almost forgot. This all took place 11 seconds into the extra session.
As many good things as the Bruins did in these first two games — Hey! They even had an honest-to-God power-play goal — the report card would have to be “D,’’ as in Disaster. There are no style points. The Bruins just lost two games they very easily could have won, and that will serve as no consolation whatsoever.
“A loss is a loss,’’ said Thomas, who gave up two goals while laying on the ice (one face down and one on his back) and a third that he got a body on but could not prevent from getting behind him. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 5-0 or the way we lost tonight.’’
He’s right and he’s wrong. Yes, you have either won or you have lost. In that sense, it’s all pass-fail. But it doesn’t matter what sport you’re talking about. A rout is far easier to rationalize than a game in which you coulda/shoulda/woulda found some way to win. The Other Guy sure did. Why didn’t you?
The Bruins were very quick to remind everyone that they have been here before. Montreal, anybody? And that was even worse, since they lost Games 1 and 2 at home. Think back to the universal civic feeling of doom and gloom as the Bruins went up to Montreal for Games 3 and 4.
“We have been here before,’’ said Mark Recchi, who ended an 11-game scoring drought by deflecting a Zdeno Chara shot past Roberto Luongo at 11:35 of the second period to give the Bruins a rare power-play goal. “We have been in this situation. And you know what? We get to go home.’’
“We have to go back to Montreal and see how we approached that Game 3,’’ Thomas said. “We’ve been able to bounce back all playoffs. Now we have to put in the kind of work to make it happen.’’
The Bruins spotted Vancouver a first-period power-play goal by that man Burrows. Chara was sent off for an indisputable interference call and Burrows was able to score on a line drive that Thomas just couldn’t corral. But hometown boy Milan Lucic gave himself an early birthday present (day after tomorrow) when Luongo wound up face down on a rebound and Lucic was able to slip it under his leg at 9:00 in Period 2. At this point the Bruins had scored one goal in the previous 157:32, dating from a third-period David Krejci goal in Game 6 of the Tampa Bay series.
When the 43-year-old Recchi scored the go-ahead goal, the Bruins were playing with a lead for the first time in the series.
But these are the Vancouver Canucks, a potent offensive team playing at home. It was probably a matter of time before some Sedin hurt them, and in this case the Swedish twin of choice was Daniel, who capped off a strong pressuring attack with a shot that caught Thomas in an indefensible position — even for him. That came at 9:37 of the third period, and it definitely was representative of a major momentum swing.
Thomas did well to get his team into OT, his biggest moment coming when he was able to keep the puck out of the net at about the 14:30 mark when it seemed that approximately half of North America had descended on the net.
The Zambonis barely off the ice, and with many of the Rogers Arena capacity crowd of 18,860 not even close to returning to their seats, the puck was dropped and here came Burrows barreling in on Thomas. Let’s just say he’s not going to enjoy watching this replay.
In terms of team defense, one might reasonably ask just how much more can the Bruins do? They only had five official giveaways in the game (Kevin Bieksa had five of Vancouver’s 12 by himself). They kept odd-man rushes to a minimum. But they have found a way to lose two games in excruciating fashion, the first on a goal with 18.5 seconds to go, and the second when they could not hold a one-goal lead in the final period and were then beaten 11 seconds into overtime. They have certainly passed all sight and smell tests while matched up against the team with the league’s best record, but they go home 0-2, regardless.
They’re in big trouble. That’s rather obvious. But they have demonstrated far too much spunk and resilience throughout these playoffs for anyone to bury them now. Game 3 is tomorrow night. They’ll be ready.