Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bruins Bitten by Burrows: Down to 'Nucks, 2-0

Much-maligned forward Alexandre Burrows scored the first and last goals, as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins in overtime 3 to 2 to go up two games to none in this best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals series. The Bruins head back to Boston with their backs against the wall, hoping that they’ll be able to win two to even the series. Bruins’ British Colombia boys Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi scored second-period goals to give the Bruins a second-period lead. Roberto Luongo was a mensch, stopping 28 of 30 shots faced for his second win of the series.

The first period saw the Bruins play an extremely tough back-and-forth game with the Canucks, who sought to push the series to 2-0 with a win Saturday night. Tim Thomas made some excellent saves early, as the Vancouver crowd surged with every big hit. Manny Malhotra, playing in his first game since a horrific eye injury he suffered in mid-March, returned to the adulation of the B.C. crowd. Every shift on the ice and every touch of the puck seemed to energize his teammates and the partisan multitudes. After an interference call went against Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara, the B’s went on the PK – successfully at first; but a late failure on a clearance by Andy Ference gave the ‘Nucks an opportunity to capitalize. Bitey (and unsuspended) Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows put the Canucks on top with a quick spin-around shot which caught Bruins’ netminder Tim Thomas by surprise . Despite equaling Vancouver’s shots, Boston was unable to match the goal and the teams went to the intermission with the score 1-0 Canucks.

After benefiting from an early (and mistaken) delay-of-game penalty to Kevin Bieksa, the Bruins were unable to capitalize, and the Bruins’ coaching staff worked to shift their PP strategy for the next attempt. Nearly halfway through the period, hometown boy Milan Lucic fought of Christian Ehrhoff for a loose puck in front of ‘Nuck goaltender Roberto Luongo, and whacked it past him for the tie game, and the Bruins’ first goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Under three minutes later, as the recipient of the powerplay, the Bruins tallied their first goal with the man advantage in a long while, as ageless wonder Mark Recchi tipped home a Chara wrister to give the B’s their first lead of the Cup Finals. A hard push by Vancouver to end the second was denied due to the stellar and sometimes spectacular play of Thomas. After two periods of play, the Bruins held the lead, with the score 2-1.

The first two periods saw the Bruins take the edge in shots (25-21), faceoffs (17-15), times on the powerplay (3-1) and score. The Canucks held the advantage in both takeaways (6-5) and hits (33-26). It was an extremely physical first 40 minutes, as each team looked to intimidate the other with punishing contact.

With the final twenty upcoming the Canucks looked to even the score. After incurring a trip to break up a potential shorthanded break for mild-mannered and honest Vancouver forward Maxime Lapierre, Dennis Seidenberg went to the box for two. Excellent penalty killing by the B’s eliminated the threat, but only for a while. Daniel Sedin scooped home his first goal of the finals, beating a scrambling Tim Thomas just over his extended pad. In spite of some tired back-and-forth play and an intense push by the Canucks late in the third neither team was able to score another goal in regulation, and the teams stayed tied 2-2 through 60 minutes to push the series to its first extra-play. The Canucks would have to wait for their victory – but not long. Eleven seconds into the extra frame, Alexandre Burrows, a player who many thought should not have participated in this game due to his alleged biting of Patrice Bergeron in game one, patiently out-waited Tim Thomas and beat Thomas and Zdeno Chara with a wraparound that sent the series back to Boston.

Zdeno Chara led all skaters in ice-time with over 28 minutes of icetime. Vancouver loosed 33 shots on Thomas, and dominated the hitting game 40-31. Patrice Bergeron won 10 of 15 faceoffs for 67%, and the Bruins as a whole won 24 of 45 faceoffs for a 53% total winning percentage. Manny Malhotra won six of seven faceoffs taken in just over seven minutes of ice time.

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