Vancouver ekes out a win, leaving Bruins on the brink
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — There’ll be no Causeway Street hockey celebration Monday night. You can put that 39-year-old champagne bottle back on the shelf for a couple of days. The Bruins can still win the Stanley Cup this year, but they’re not going to do it at home.
The Bruins dropped a 1-0 decision to the Canucks at Rogers Arena last night and trail the Stanley Cup Final, 3-2. If the spoked-B’s are going to win their first Cup since 1972, they’re going to have to win at home Monday, then come back here Wednesday and do it again.
The Canucks last night rebounded from the two-game Garden humiliation, skating toe-to-toe with the Bruins for two-plus periods, then taking a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute of the third on a goal by the ever-annoying Max Lapierre. Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, a sieve at North Station earlier in the week, made the lone score stand.
“I think tonight, as a whole, they were the better team,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Two of our last three series have been seven-game series. Our job now is to create another one. We’ve had to regroup all year.’’
This is starting to feel like the 1960 World Series (look it up). The Bruins have outscored the Canucks, 14-6, but trail, three games to two. Boston has lost three one-goal games in this house of horrors. Overall, the Bruins have lost their last five road games.
“It doesn’t matter if you lose, 10-0 or 1-0, it’s still a loss,’’ said Patrice Bergeron, who had Boston’s best scoring opportunity. “We’ve got to put this one behind us and concentrate on getting that third win.’’
When we last saw these teams, the Bruins were pummeling the Canucks on the ice and on the scoreboard. Boston embarrassed Vancouver, 12-1, over five periods after Aaron Rome’s cheap shot took Nathan Horton (concussion) out of the series in the first period of Game 3.
Luongo was mercifully pulled in Game 4. He figured to be on a short leash back at home, but goaltending turned out to be a strength for the Canucks.
“I play the game because I love it and I want to win a Stanley Cup,’’ said Luongo, who won an Olympic gold medal for Canada on this same ice 16 months ago. “I try to block everything else out. Sometimes that’s hard to do in a city like this, but you just have to play your game.’’
Luongo wasn’t the only Canucks star on the hot seat. The highly touted Sedin twins, mocked as the “Sedin Sisters’’ and “Thelma and Louise’’ (thanks, Mike Milbury), were blanked again in Game 5 and have accounted for a whopping two points in the Cup Final. Still, they have a good chance to get their names engraved on the Cup.
We expected Vancouver to pepper Tim Thomas with shots out of the gate, but that never materialized. Instead, the home skaters came out hitting. Boston’s best early chance came when Chris Kelly beat Luongo, only to hear his shot clang off the crossbar.
The goalies controlled the night. It was 0-0 after two, and Thomas said, “Going into the third period almost felt like overtime. I was doing everything I could not to get scored on.’’
Lapierre broke the tie, coming from behind the net, hanging out by the right side, and banging home a shot when the puck came to him after a Kevin Bieksa shot.
“He just happened to be at the right place at the right time,’’ reasoned Julien.
Thomas has stopped 165 of 171 shots in the five games. But he can’t stop them all. The Canucks played like a team tired of being pushed around and ridiculed. They smothered all of Boston’s power plays.
They also continued to flop and embellish, and it was especially annoying to see Lapierre get the goal. Lapierre is the menace who taunted Bergeron by sticking his fingers in Bergeron’s face in Game 2. He’s a former Montreal Canadien.
So, now it’s official. The Bruins are not going to win the Stanley Cup at the Garden this year. If they’re going to get it done they’re going to have to win these last two games and bring the Cup home from the other side of the continent.
“We’ve got to find a way to win at least one game on the road and for some reason we haven’t been able to do that,’’ said Milan Lucic. “We have to do whatever we can to come back out there. We didn’t take advantage of this opportunity.’’
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.