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At his age, Recchi enjoys assisted living

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / June 14, 2011

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Last night could have been the final game of Mark Recchi’s seemingly never-ending career.

But whatever retirement thoughts the 43-year-old Recchi might have had entering the game, he banished them with one of his best games of the postseason. Recchi crammed three assists, four shots, two hits, and a whole lot of leadership into 12:03 of ice time.

Recchi’s not done yet.

“It crosses my mind,’’ Recchi said when asked if he ever thought last night could have been it. “But I have a job out there to do for the guys. I can’t put those thoughts in my head. I’m going to lay it on the line one more time, then see where it takes me after that.

“No matter what, it’s been a great 22 years. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. This has been one of my best ones, regardless of what happens. I’m just still proud to play in the NHL. I love playing hockey and I love being in the NHL. I think it’s the greatest sport out there.’’

At times during the playoffs, Recchi’s legs didn’t look like they had much pop left in them. Recchi didn’t score a point in seven games against Tampa Bay. Recchi submitted another 0-0—0 performance in Game 1 at Rogers Arena.

But it appears Recchi has been sipping greater amounts of the red wine he credits as his secret serum.

In Game 2, Recchi snapped an 11-match goal-scoring drought. In Game 3, Recchi scored two of the Bruins’ eight goals.

Last night, Recchi had a hand in three of his team’s five strikes.

“He’s been a leader for us all year,’’ said Brad Marchand. “He’s stepped up for us huge in the Final. He’s playing unbelievable right now. He’s really carrying us along. Whenever we need that little boost, he’s there to give it to us. He showed again tonight why he’s such a great leader. We’re lucky to have him here.’’

Recchi got his night started with one of his trademark barreling forechecks. Recchi skated straight at Christian Ehrhoff and won the puck battle. After Recchi moved the puck forward to Marchand, the rookie snapped an off-wing riser high glove on Roberto Luongo at 5:31 of the first period.

At 8:35 of the first, with Alex Edler serving a boarding penalty, Recchi set up in his office in front of the net. Because of Recchi’s screen, Andrew Ference beat Luongo with a long-distance slapper.

“I tried to get on top of the paint and create traffic for my guys,’’ Recchi said. “That’s my job on our power-play unit. Andrew did a terrific job.’’

Recchi capped his 3-point night with a helper on David Krejci’s five-on-three third-period goal, which took place with Raffi Torres (tripping) and Andrew Alberts (cross-checking) in the penalty box. Recchi sent a cross-crease pass that Krejci slammed past a helpless Cory Schneider at 6:59 of the third to give the Bruins a 5-1 lead.

Tomorrow, Recchi will play in his 189th postseason game. It will likely be his last. There is only one way Recchi wants his career to end.

“The biggest thing is just embracing it,’’ Recchi said. “This is what we dream of. We’ve had pressure all year, pressure all through the playoffs. It’s come down to one game.’’

Pushing back For part of the first period, most of the second, and the beginning of the third, the Canucks had the better of the Bruins. Vancouver was down early, but the Canucks rallied to play some of their best hockey of the series at TD Garden.

“I think they got a few bounces and a few rebounds that cost us,’’ said Daniel Sedin. “I thought for 60 minutes, this was almost our best game of the series in this building. We had chances again to be in this game. But, obviously, when they’re up, 4-0, it’s tough to come back. I thought we made a push. It wasn’t good enough.’’

Henrik Sedin scored the team’s first goal of the night just 22 seconds into the third. The goal took place while Patrice Bergeron was serving an elbowing penalty. Zdeno Chara made an ill-advised decision to go up the ice and throw a big hit. At the other end, Henrik Sedin curled into the slot and flipped a backhander over Tim Thomas.

The Canucks nearly made it a 4-2 game. Jannik Hansen celebrated at 3:17. But video review quickly confirmed that Jansen hit the post instead of something in the net. It was a fortunate bounce for the Bruins, who weren’t very thorough in pushing back against the Canucks.

“We know we did some things right and we did some things wrong,’’ Chara said. “We have to get better at it. Obviously, we want to have our best game of the series in the last game.’’

One last time The Bruins are scheduled to practice at 5 p.m. local time today at Rogers Arena. They will most likely not skate tomorrow morning prior to Game 7 . . . Boston’s first line could finally get untracked on the road tomorrow. The line started the series playing against Vancouver’s shutdown pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa, along with the Canucks’ best two-way line of Chris Higgins, Ryan Kesler, and Mason Raymond. Hamhuis hasn’t played since Game 1. Raymond, who exited early in the first, might not be available tomorrow . . . Chris Kelly won 14 of 19 faceoffs (74 percent) . . . Shawn Thornton landed a game-high seven hits . . . The NHL’s competition committee agrees with a recommendation to broaden the league’s definition of illegal hits to the head. The committee’s decision yesterday is the next step in expanding the scope of Rule 48, enacted last year to outlaw blindside head shots. The NHL Players’ Association also will consider the change, and the league’s board of governors must approve any formal rule change. The expected change will allow referees to call penalties for any hit to the head on a defenseless player. The current rule specifies penalties on hits coming from the blind side.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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