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Burrows’s goal came in blink of an eye

Vancouver’s Alex Burrows swings around the Bruins’ net en route to his winning goal as Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara (33) attempt to break up the play. Vancouver’s Alex Burrows swings around the Bruins’ net en route to his winning goal as Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara (33) attempt to break up the play. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 5, 2011

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Canucks’ hands were in the air in celebration seemingly before the puck dropped onto the ice. It had taken just 11 seconds — a blink, a moment — for the Bruins to go from winning the overtime faceoff to losing the game, going down two games to the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final. It took repeated replays to understand what had happened, how Tim Thomas ended up sprawled on the right side of the goal, the net wide open, the stick of the now-reviled Alex Burrows poking the puck in.

“You saw it,’’ Thomas said. “I don’t know exactly what happened. I saw Burrows all alone, winding up for a slap shot from a good scoring area. I was aggressive. He faked the shot, but I was able to stay with him so that he couldn’t get the original shot off. But then he was able to go around the net and tuck it in the net.’’

Patrice Bergeron, who was out with Brad Marchand, Mark Recchi, Zdeno Chara, and Andrew Ference to begin overtime for the Bruins, had done all he could. He won the faceoff, sending the puck back to Ference. But the Bruins turned it over in the neutral zone, a problem for them all night, and the puck came out to Burrows, who was nearly alone as he headed toward the Bruins’ net from the left side.

He wound up, as if to shoot, and Thomas came out. The puck and Burrows went around the goal, and even with Chara doing his best to break up the play, the Vancouver left wing still managed to catch the smallest bit of the puck with the end of his stick. It was just enough, as it slid over the line, and the Canucks’ hands shot up in the air. There was nothing Thomas could have done, not at that point.

“We turned the puck over in the neutral zone,’’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I think we tried to chip it in, and they intercepted it. And again, whenever you turn over the puck in the neutral zone, they went on the counterattack. I think Z came across, but when Timmy was down, he had to go all the way around him, and that gave Burrows that extra leverage that he needed to tuck it into the empty net.’’

Julien was asked about the defensive pairing, acknowledging that the Bruins had little choice. With Vancouver having the final line change, the Bruins didn’t know who would be out there. They were left with Chara and Ference.

After it was over, they were left with a 2-0 series hole, going back to Boston for tomorrow’s Game 3.

“It was a turnover in the neutral zone,’’ Bergeron said. “I’m not sure how he got alone, but obviously he made a good fake, faked that shot and came around. We got caught. Obviously we won the draw, but we have to make sure we do a better job in the neutral zone.’’

The players seemed speechless, stunned, as if even they didn’t know what happened. As if they hadn’t been the ones on the ice when Burrows converted the winner. In fact, Thomas barely seemed able to answer questions after the game. There was so much so soon after it ended that he couldn’t comprehend.

“I can’t tell you anything that happened before Burrows, basically when he caught the pass,’’ said Thomas. “I don’t know who made the pass to Burrows. I don’t know exactly where it came from. I don’t know if we won the faceoff or they won the faceoff. You’re asking the wrong guy.’’

The Bruins won the faceoff and lost the game, their first loss in five overtime games in the playoffs.

“A lot of times in OT you’re stunned, when either you win or lose, because that’s the way they happen,’’ Thomas said. “They happen so quick, whether it’s at the beginning or whether it’s 30 minutes into an overtime. So, yeah, it was not the way I envisioned it going. We’ve won a lot of overtime games this Stanley Cup playoffs. I thought it was going to be the same way tonight.’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmalieBenjamin.

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