The Bruins and Canucks started off the Stanley Cup Finals with one of the most exciting playoff games in recent memory. Boston goalie Tim Thomas and Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo both turned in career performances to give their team a shot to win, but it was a gorgeous play from Ryan Kesler that ended up giving the edge to the Canucks.
The first period was frantic, as both teams flew up and down the ice. Luongo kept the game scoreless by killing off two minutes of a Boston 5 on 3 advantage early on, a trend that would continue throughout the game. Boston's poor power play this postseason has dangled over their heads, but they have survived and advanced -- so far. Against the Canucks, the Bruins will need to convert these chances to compete in the series.
The end of the period had a strange sequence of events. In the middle of a scrum after the final whistle, Canucks winger Alexandre Burrows was caught on film biting the finger of Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. Three penalties were called on the play. Burrows faces a possible suspension, though it would be an unprecedented event for the NHL -- and at the worst possible time.
The game remained scoreless through the first two periods (and most of the third) until an effort play by Kesler at the blue line set up the game winning (and only) goal with 19 seconds remaining. Kesler poke checked the puck over the blue line while simultaneously dragging the toe of his skate to stay onsides and then completed a near no-look pass to rushing winger Jannik Hansen. Hansen feigned a shot to pull Thomas to the side of the net before firing a perfect pass onto the skate of Raffi Torres for the one timer deflection past Thomas, thus securing the victory for Vancouver.
This spectacular game is a boon for NBC Sports, who recently renewed their contract with the NHL, and was the highest rated Finals Game One in 12 years, despite one of the teams hailing from Canada. It even beat last year's Final between the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks -- two big market US teams suffering from long Cup droughts. Everything is shaping up for a Finals for the ages.
Game Two begins on June 4 at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Watch it.