The Vancouver Canucks have been a franchise for 40 seasons and have never won Lord Stanley's Cup. In 1994, they fell a victim of history as Mark Messier's New York Rangers took the championship. After Friday night's 1-0 shutout victory over the Boston Bruins, they are once again a single victory away.
This season's Cup Finals continues to be unpredictable. After getting blown out the previous two games in Boston by a 12-1 score, the Canucksk appeared to be reeling. At the center of scrutiny (as always) was Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who had given up all 12 goals in Boston. Many were calling for backup goalie Cory Schneider to start in net and save the Canucks' season. Instead, Luongo was brilliant, stopping all 31 shots he faced. It was his second shutout of the series.
His counterpart was just as good. Bruins netminder Tim Thomas continued having a series for the ages as he stopped 24 of 25 shots. The lone goal occurred in the middle of the third period, as Canucks forward Maxim Lapierre threw an impossible shot on Thomas from alongside the goal. The puck hit Thomas' chest and his backwards momentum carried the puck into the net for the gamewinning goal.
The Bruins offense had found a rhythm during Games Three and Four, but a spectacular effort from the Canucks defense held them at bay. The action was physical along the boards, and both teams had to work hard for their chances.
The story of the game -- and the playoffs -- is the Bruins "power" play. The Bruins had five power play opportunities during the first 25 minutes of the game, but were unable to put any real chances together. They were only able to manage seven total shots on goal during six power plays. Credit goes to the Canucks special teams, but the Bruins power play attack continues to be impotent and has cost them at least two games in this series alone.
Now the series goes back to Boston, where the Bruins hope to force a Game Seven. With their recent play on home ice, it would be a shock if this series didn't go the distance.
Game Six is scheduled to begin on Monday, June 13 at 8:00 p.m. EDT, on NBC and CBC.