|Un performance exceptionnel de Tim Thomas...|
The Canucks came out with pressure, controlling the forecheck early and forcing the Bruins defense to make a few nice plays to keep them from opening the scoring. Boston then pressured back and forced Roberto Luongo to make a desperation save on David Krecji to keep it scoreless, and as the early stages of the period passed both teams continued to get good chance and the game carried with much pace. Through the middle of the period, the pace continued to be furious as the refs let them play; the action was virtually nonstop. But Patrice Bergeron scored the opening goal off a faceoff with 5:23 left in the period from the slot, whipping a shot through traffic past Luongo, who had no time to react. Vancouver pushed back well but Thomas was there to shut the door, keeping the Canucks from breaking back. As the period wound down the home side kept coming at Boston, but could not break through, and the first period closed with Boston ahead 1-0.
It was the Bruins' turn to come out fast in the second, with Brad Marchand hitting the post a little more than a minute in; the Canucks came back hard and got two open looks at Thomas, but whiffed both times. Vancouver kept coming as the second frame continued, and again got some great chances at the Bruins' goal, but somehow the away defense and goaltender kept the puck out. With about ten minutes left in the period, the Canucks were able to draw Thomas out of his net and Alex Burrows had an open net, but Zdeno Chara somehow got a block to keep it out. Boston made them pay on their next rush, as Brad Marchand collected a loose puck behind the net off a rebound and poked home a wraparound for a 2-0 lead at 12:13. Again, the home team pressed back hard, and again, Thomas was there to keep them out. But the Canucks' pressure drew a penalty with 3:54 left, and halfway through the power play, Patrice Bergeron scored a shorthanded goal to make it 3-0 and effectively end the game. This time, there was no push back from Vancouver and the period ended with Boston ahead 3-0.
As the final period started, the Bruins began to set up a wall in front of Thomas, employing a full trap to shut the game down until the end. At 5:33, Jannik Hansen was called for interference after smashing Andrew Ference from behind, but the Bruins could not convert on the power play. Vancouver's offense flickered feebly again as the clock began to wind down, but the fact of the matter was the the Canucks were no match for Boston's defensive style as the Bruins totally locked up the game. With 8:26 remaining, Vancouver was spotted a power play, but again flopped with it and got nothing from it. Boston applied the sleeper hold, and Brad Marchand made it 4-0 with 2:43 left. And then it was over. The Bruins won.
And that is all she wrote. The Bruins wanted this game more than the Canucks did, and it was clear. Vancouver may have come out hard, but they could not cash in on their chances and kept trying to beat Tim Thomas in ways that had not worked, and they payed for it by crushing the dreams of a City and most of a Nation. You have to feel for the Canucks fans who don't get to cheer for three of the best professional sports teams in North America when the ice melts.
About not cashing those chances - the Canucks (Henrik Sedin, cough) must be deathly allergic to shooting, or something, because if they were not, they would have cashed in on some of their opportunities. Tim Thomas may have just had the best season ever for a goaltender, but he can's stop the puck when he is literally out of the net. As I tweeted, I literally could have cashed some of those chances. This was just as an embarrassing performance for the Canucks as it was an excellent one for the Bruins. And I didn't even start to mention Luongo.
In the history of the National Hockey League, exactly three teams have come back from 2-0 down on the road to win the series. The last two, in the last three years? Boston and Pittsburgh. Nice. No, really.
This first season has been one heck of a ride. Congratulations to the Bruins and their fans.