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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Canucks score with 18.5 second left, take Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals 1-0 over the Bruins

I was getting set for overtime in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals last night at the Rogers Centre. I was going to crack another Sam Summer with my buddy, tweet my overtime winners for both teams to ESPN's John Bucigross and pray that the Bruins could find a way to steal it.

Ryan Kesler, Jannik Hansen and Raffi Torres had other plans though as they teamed up for a goal with 18.5 seconds left in regulation en route to a 1-0 Vancouver win over Boston.

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (33 saves) deserved better since he played outstanding, particularly in the third period when the B's started to skate in quicksand and the ice tilted towards the Canucks. The winning goal wasn't his fault at all either as it was the result of a misplay by defenseman Johnny Boychuk, a great pass by Kesler to start the play, Hansen's pass to Torres and his professional finish.

Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo is a Gold medal winner as we all know and one of the NHL's best but he's prone to giving up weak goals and juicy rebounds. Not last night. He had 36 saves which is a little misleading since Boston only had a handful of great chances.

Since they're so heavily favored and carry the weight of Canada on their shoulders, a loss in Game 1 for the Canucks would have been huge. The pressure would have mounted and who knows how they would react? Now, I'll say that the Bruins need to win Game 2 or else this series might not go past five games.

Two subplots to come out of Game 1: Alexandre Burrows clearly bit Patrice Bergeron's finger in a scrum after the first period ended. We'll have to see if the NHL comes down hard on him or looks the other way during its showcase series. 2) Dan Hamhuis left in the second period with an injury after flipping Milan Lucic near the boards. He's one of Vancouver's top two defensemen so his loss would be a big one.

The Rogers Arena crowd was pumped during the pregame but the B's (and refs) systematically took them out of it. There were a ton of penalties on both sides but each team went 0 for 6 on their power plays.

The good news is that Boston's penalty kill was awesome but they won't keep that up if they continually put Vancouver's lethal power play (28%) on the ice. Ditto for the Bruins' pathetic power play which has now dipped to 7% in the playoffs. They had a four-minute advantage in the first period that they couldn't cash in on despite nine shots and a 5 on 3 in the second period that didn't give them anything tangible except a partial breakaway by the Canucks.

There's an extra day off before the pivotal Game 2 on Saturday night. I have faith that Thomas will play great again but the real question is if the Bruins can solve Luongo and stay out of the penalty box?

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