For the second straight game, the Boston Bruins have played with a chip on their shoulders since the loss of forward Nathan Horton to a severe concussion. For the second straight game, the Canucks have played timid and afraid of the physical contact.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a series.
After two tough losses in Vancouver, many were skeptical of Boston's chances at a comeback. After Horton was carried out on a stretcher in Game Three, many proclaimed the Bruins done in this series. (Yes, that includes me.) Instead, Boston has punched the bully square in the mouth and Vancouver has yet to recover. Just two nights after an 8-1 blowout, the Bruins continued their torrid assault on the Canucks' defense with a 4-0 rout.
Rich Peverly started the scoring midway through the first period as David Krejci made a fantastic move along the boards to carry the puck into the zone, then pass to a wide open Peverly who snapped a shot five-hole past Luongo. It was obviously not Luongo's evening on the second goal, as he allowed a soft goal on a wrister from the faceoff circle from Michael Ryder halfway through the second period. The vast majority of goalies easily catch that shot, but for some reason Luongo didn't even see it, though it was unscreened.Luongo was pulled for the second time these playoffs after Peverly made it 4-0 just 3:39 into the third period. After two dominating series against the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks, the Bruins depleted forwards are embarrassing Luongo. He finished with 16 saves on just 20 shots.
His counterpart for Boston, Tim Thomas, was again invincible with a 38 save shutout. It was the first Stanley Cup Finals shutout for a Bruins goalie since Gerry Cheevers on May 8, 1978 against the Montreal Canadiens. Thomas has been decisive during these Finals, and his aggressive style has played well against the normally excellent cross-ice passing of the Canucks.
From there, gameplay became chippy. The Bruins continued to punish the Canucks along the boards and kept the center of the zone clear with their physical play. It was an inspired effort by Boston's forwards, and a shutdown performance from their defensive corps. The third period alone had 24 penalty minutes and three 10 minute misconducts, including one on Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for slashing Alexandre Burrows in the final minutes and causing a multi-team fight.
This series has been action-packed and full of storylines. As it heads back to Vancouver for two of the next three, hockey fans everywhere can only hope it goes the distance.