By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
For the first time since 1990, the Boston Bruins are in the Stanley Cup Final. Their opponent, the Vancouver Canucks, who were last in the Stanley Cup Final in 1994. The wait for Boston fans has been far too long, but the wait is finally over. The Canucks were led by Sedin brothers Daniel and Henrik and centerman Ryan Kesler. The starting goaltenders for game one were Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas. Vancouver had home-ice advantage, so game one was at the Rogers Arena. The wait is over folks, game one of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals is underway.
Game One Underway
Puck was dropped, and Tim Thomas was tested early. In the first two minutes, Thomas turned away four quick shots, including Henrik Sedin’s shot in the first 20 seconds. 4:03 into the period, the Bruins were going on the first powerplay of the night. Daniel Sedin went to the box for high-sticking, which was called a double-minor. Boston gets some quality chances, but the prolonged powerplay for Boston resulted in no score, and shortly after, Chris Kelly was going to the box for high sticking.
Vancouver was going on its first powerplay of the night. Approaching the end of the powerplay Daniel Sedin has an open look at the left post but can’t get the rebound to settle on his stick. Bullet dodged for the Bruins there, and with Thomas covering the puck, Alexandre Burrows was heading to the box for holding. It would be 4-on-4 for 29 seconds and a Bruins powerplay for 1:31 to follow. Boston couldn’t get one by Luongo, and another minute later, Brad Marchand was heading to the box for holding the stick. The Canucks looked to break the scoreless tie.
Boston killed off another powerplay, and Vancouver was now 0-3 on the man advantage. The first 20 minutes concludes with no scoring but plenty of drama. At the final buzzer, Bergeron and Burrows get into a prolonged pushing match, while Chara has a lengthy conversation with Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis. Patrice Bergeron shows the referee where Burrows appeared to bite him. On the replay, Burrows did indeed bite Bergeron, a classless move from the Vancouver forward. Boston would start the second period with the man advantage.
Scoreless after 40 minutes
28 seconds into the second period, Boston would be on a 5-on-3 powerplay after Kevin Bieksa was whistled for high-sticking. Vancouver killed off both penalties, and Boston was 0-5 on the night while on the man advantage. Four minutes into the second, David Krejci was being sent to the box for cross-checking, and Vancouver was on a powerplay of their own.
Boston once again killed off another penalty, and the period progressed. 9:28 into the second, Kesler nearly gets the Canucks on the board, zipping down the middle after taking a pass from Bieksa, but he goes to the forehand and loses control of the puck just as he closes in on Thomas. Seidenberg is called for kneeing, and the Canucks are on the power play. 26 seconds into Vancouver’s powerplay, Peverley went to the box for tripping, and it was now a 5-on-3 powerplay for the Canucks. The 5-on-3 powerplay for Vancouver wouldn’t last long, as just 8 seconds later, Burrows was called for tripping, and it was just a 4-on-3 for Vancouver. The Bruins killed off another Vancouver powerplay, and it was back to even strength.
We finally had consistent 5-on-5 play for five minutes, but that ended at the 17:50 mark when Patrice Bergeron was called for tripping. The Canucks almost get one by Thomas, but the powerplay shortly ended along with the second period, and after two, it was scoreless. It may be scoreless through 40 minutes, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacked entertainment. The game has been remarkably physical, but both sides have had their fair share of chances. The Bruins have been as effective against Vancouver’s power play as they have been miserable when they have the advantage. Neither goalie has had to make more than a couple of high-degree-of-difficulty saves, but Roberto Luongo (26 saves) and Tim Thomas (20) have been as steady as you’d expect from a scoreless tie.
Canucks Score Gamewinner
The third period was underway, and both teams desperately looked to break the scoreless tie. The Bruins hold a 31-25 shot advantage at the six-minute mark. A minute past the period’s halfway mark, Vancouver has an amazing opportunity when Hansen skates through the slot and feeds Maxim Lapierre for a tip at the right post, but Thomas stops it and then smothers the puck as Lapierre whacks away at it. Thomas has been particularly sharp this period. It looked like Vancouver would finally break the tie three minutes later when Alexander Edler stickhandles in and beats Thomas, only to have his shot hit the near post and ricochet into the opposite corner.
Vancouver continued to pummel Thomas with shots, but Thomas was playing tremendously in the net. As the final minute of regulation ticked down, it looked like this game was going to overtime. That wasn’t the case, as with 18 seconds left, Vancouver broke the scoreless tie. Raffi Torres poked in a textbook right-to-left feed from Jannik Hansen after Kesler initiated the play by digging the puck out along the boards. The final 18 seconds ticked off the clock, and Vancouver had stolen game one with a 1-0 victory.
Vancouver Leads Series 1-0
A very physical and exciting game, but not the result the Bruins were looking for. It would be interesting to see if Burrows would receive a suspension after biting Patrice Bergeron’s finger at the end of the first period. The same narrative that has stuck throughout Boston’s postseason run was present in game one, and that was their horrific powerplay play. Boston was 0-5 while on the powerplay and was now 5-66 on powerplays in the entire 2011 postseason. On the other hand, their penalty kill unit was terrific, killing off six penalties. The series would stay in Vancouver for game two on June 4th.