Monday, June 13, 2011

Bruins Extend a Bruising Series to the Limit

BOSTON — The Bruins clobbered the Canucks, 5-2, Monday night to extend the Stanley Cup finals to Game 7 in Vancouver on Wednesday. Did anyone expect anything different? Hardly.
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Chris Tanev of the Canucks, left, after taking a hit from Daniel Paille of the Bruins. Game 7 will be on Wednesday in Vancouver.

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Goaltender Roberto Luongo, who shut out the Bruins in Game 4, was pulled from Monday night's game after allowing three goals in the first period.

The series has stayed true to form. The Canucks have won each game in Vancouver, where goaltender Roberto Luongo has been marvelous. In Boston he is a sieve. Go figure.

He was pulled after allowing three goals in a span of 3 minutes 4 seconds of the first period Monday night. In Games 2 and 3 here, he allowed a total of 12.

While Boston fans howled with glee inside TD Garden, a couple of hundred Canucks fans sat mutely, having traveled across the continent to see a beatdown.

Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Andrew Ference and Michael Ryder struck for the goals over a 4:14 span. Luongo was pulled after Ference’s goal, having stopped 5 of 8 shots in a mere 8 minutes 35 seconds of play.

It had to be galling. Luongo had a brilliant 31-save effort in Game 5, but he was pilloried in the news media for saying that Bruins goaltender Tom Thomas played too far out of the crease on the game’s only goal, and that it would have been “an easy save for me.”

“I’ve been pumping his tires since the start of the series, and I haven’t heard one nice thing he’s had to say about me,” Luongo added.

The remarks left Luongo open to further criticism.

Thomas stopped 36 of 28 shots, and his save percentage is .967, which, if it holds up, would be the third best in finals history. Patrick Roy’s was .974 in 1996 and Rogie Vachon’s was .972 in ’69.

Luongo’s is .896.

Marchand opened the scoring at 5:31, the rookie’s third goal of the series. It was an open shot over Luongo’s shoulder on the short side.

Just 35 seconds later Lucic made the score 2-0 after a terrific behind-the-back setup from Rich Peverley. Lucic was wide open as he bore in on Luongo, but it still looked unflattering for Luongo when the shot went through his legs.

Only 29 seconds afterward, Andrew Ference made it 3-0 with a power-play goal. Luongo was completely screened on Ference’s drive from the point, but he strangely moved toward the center of the net, overanticipating the flight of the shot.

Coach Alain Vigneault decided that was all for Luongo. In came the backup goalie Cory Schneider, as he had in Game 4 for a shell-shocked Luongo, who allowed eight goals.

Schneider’s presence did not matter to the Bruins, who maintained their relentless attack. Just 1:10 after Schneider’s entry, and on only the second shot he faced, Ryder tipped Tomas Kaberle’s drive over Schneider’s glove to make it 4-0.

The nastiness that has marked this series also continued.

Vancouver’s Mason Raymond was taken to hospital with an undisclosed injury after falling awkwardly into the corner boards while tangled up with Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk 20 seconds into the game.

No penalty was called by the referees Dan O’Halloran and Kelly Sutherland on what seemed to be an accidental play. But the crowd cheered throughout the stoppage as Raymond lay face down on the ice. After about a minute, he was assisted slowly off by teammates.

How different this game might have been if the Canucks’ Henrik Sedin had not fanned while looking at a wide-open net in the game’s second minute. He had received a bounce pass off the end boards, eerily like the one Maxim Lapierre beat Thomas on for Game 5’s only goal — the one Luongo said would have been an easy save for him.

But Sedin missed, continuing his slump in the finals. He finally scored 22 seconds into the third period — his first point of the series. That made the score 4-1.

Three minutes later the Canucks’ Jannik Hansen seemed to make a game of it with a snap-shot goal, but it was waved off when replays showed the puck hit the post and did not cross the goal line.

But when David Krejci scored during a two-man advantage with 13:01 left, the game was truly over.

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