Of course it's going to a Game 7. In this series, would any other ending be appropriate?
In the final game of the season on the Garden ice, the Bruins made it a memorable one, defeating the Vancouver Canucks, 5-2, tonight in Game 6 of their Stanley Cup Final showdown.
The Bruins evened the series, 3-3, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 Wednesday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
The wildly compelling series held to form tonight, with the Bruins routing the Canucks on the Garden ice for the third time in this series. Boston chased Canucks starting goaltender Roberto Luongo, whose tires looked entirely deflated as he skated off the ice just 8:35 into the game, having allowed three goals in the span of 3:04 in the first period.Brad Marchand scored first at 5:31. Then it was Milan Lucic at 6:06. Then Andrew Ference on the power play at 8:35.
And that was all for Luongo.
Luongo, who had griped that Bruins goalie Tim Thomas wasn't complimentary enough of his play, allowed three goals on eight shots before being replaced by former Boston College goalie Cory Schneider.
Michael Ryder scored his eighth goal of the playoffs just a minute and 10 seconds after Schneider entered the game.
Schneider was otherwise steady, allowing just David Krejci's 12th postseason goal -- the first-line center leads all scorers this postseason with 23 points -- in the third period while stopping 30 of 32 shots.
Henrik Sedin (power play) and Maxim Lapierre scored in the third period for the Canucks.
While Schneider was far more stable than Luongo tonight, it's hard to believe Vancouver will start anyone other than their regular netminder Wednesday.
While Luongo has been abysmal at the Garden, allowing 15 goals in Games 3, 4, and 6, he's been stellar on his home ice, allowing just three goals in three games, all Vancouver victories.
The Bruins have solved him on their ice, outscoring the Canucks 17-3 at the Garden in this series.
And with their sensational performance tonight, they'll get the ultimate chance to solve him on his turf.
In Game 7. Of course.
Final score: Bruins 5, Canucks 2: And we'll see you at Game 7. The Bruins got goals from five different players, Mark Recchi had three assists, Roberto Luongo was chased before the first period was half complete, and Tim Thomas stopped 35 shots as the Bruins forced a winner-take-all game Wednesday at Vancouver.
18:29: Garden scoreboard shows the Bruins' Stanley Cup banners, then the spot for the next one. Nice touch.
17:34, Bruins 5, Canucks 2: Maxim Lapierre gets one back for the Canucks.
11:32: Recchi penalized for tripping. Vancouver is 1 for 3 on the power play tonight.
6:59: Bergeron sent off for cross checking, Burrows for slashing. At least there was no biting this time. The penalty is Bergeron's fourth of the game.
6:59 third period, Bruins 5, Canucks 1: Beautiful pass from Mark Recchi at the far post to playoff scoring leader David Krejci on Schneider's right, and there's nothing the goalie can do. For Krejci, it's his 12th goal and 23d point of the postseason. The assist is Recchi's third of the game.
6:11: The Bruins will have a 5 on 3 for 1:13 thanks in large part to Tyler Seguin's speed. Breaking in on Schneider, he's hauled down in the crease, with Andrew Alberts getting busted for cross checking. The Bruins use their timeout, emphasizing the importance of this.
5:23: Raffi Torres sent off for tripping Rich Peverley. The Bruins are 1 for 3 on the power play tonight.
3:17: A crucial break for the Bruins. The Canucks celebrate what looks like their second goal in less than a minute when Jannik Hansen beats Thomas stick-side. But the red light never goes on, and a replay shows the puck hit the far post without every crossing the line. Bullet dodged, but the Bruins need to start matching the Canucks' energy.
2:45: Vancouver has caught up to the Bruins in shots -- they're tied at 27 apiece. The Canucks are controlling play early in the period, and the Bruins need Thomas to be at his best over the next few minutes to halt the momentum.
0:22 third period, Bruins 4, Canucks 1: So much for the,shutout -- Henrik Sedin gets the Canucks on the board, assisted by his brother Daniel and Christian Ehrhoff. The goal is Vancouver's second on the power play in the series.
Second intermission quick notes: The Canucks outshot the Bruins in the period, 11-8, but the Bruins hold a 27-22 advantage in the game . . . Dennis Seidenberg leads the Bruins with 14:02 of ice time, while Zdeno Chara is at 13:26. It'll be interesting to see if Claude Julien limits their workload in the third period . . . The Bruins have outhit the Canucks, 32-29. Vancouver outhit them in Game 5, 47-27 . . . Jannik Hansen has had the brunt of the shifts on the second line, replacing the injured Mason Raymond . . . Fifteen Bruins are plus-1. Fifteen Canucks are minus-1.
End of the second period, Bruins 4, Canucks 0: Sensational in the first period, steady in the second, the Bruins are 20 minutes from forcing a Game 7 Wednesday in Vancouver. Back with a few key stats in a moment.
19:08: Bergeron sent off for elbowing. Vancouver is 0 for 2 on the power play tonight. Vancouver is 1 for 27 on the power play in this series.
18:58: Krejci nearly connects on a left-to-right pass to Peverley, but No. 49 can't control the puck. Said it before tonight, but those two have generated plenty of good chances tonight on the first line.
18:03: Schneider with back-to-back saves, giving him 18 stops in 19 shots. Would the Canucks dare bench Luongo in Game 7? Or do they bank on him playing well at home again?
16:42: Henrik Sedin is stoned at close range by Thomas, and the rebound is swept away. Twenty-one Vancouver shots, 21 Thomas saves.
14:47: Adam McQuaid blasts Maxim Lapierre. This time, no acting was required when the Canucks' forward hit the ice.
14:15: Bruins kill it off, with Peverley generating a decent shorthanded chance for the Bruins.
12:15: Dennis Seidenberg called for interference after crushing Chris Higgins in the neutral zone. (Marchand came in to hit Higgins and deliver a few bruises of his own.) Vancouver is 0 for 1 on the power play.
10:47: Chants of "Looooo-ong-go!" fill the building. The scoreboard obliges by showing him on the Canucks' bench.
9:54: Bruins hold a 24-15 shots advantage. Pace has slowed, and if there's any urgency on the Canucks' part, the Bruins are doing a fine job countering it.
5:02: Kesler breaks in on Thomas -- he looked pretty healthy on that play -- but the Bruins goalie stops him point blank.
3:45: Bruins kill the penalty, and David Krejci is everywhere on the ensuing shift.
2:04: Daniel Sedin bangs one off the pipe after a scrum in front of Thomas. You could hear the sound of a missed opportunity on that one.
Start of the second period: The Canucks get their first power-play of the game when Bergeron is called for goalie interference 25 seconds into the period.
First intermission quick notes: The Bruins' four goals in a span of 4:41 in the first period set a Stanley Cup Final record for the fastest four goals by one team, eclipsing the old mark of 5:29 set by the Canadiens against the Red Wings on March 31, 1956 . . . Brad Marchand's ninth goal of the playoffs broke the club record for a Bruins rookie, topping the eight scored by Bobby Joyce in 1988 and Mike Krushelnyski in '83 . . . Mason Raymond, injured in the first period, has been taken to the hospital with an undisclosed injury . . . The Bruins outshot the Canucks, 19-11 . . . Roberto Luongo's scoreless streak endedat 65:31. Suppose that kind of goes without saying.
End of the first period, Bruins 4, Canucks 0: Thomas stops Jannik Hansen on a breakaway with 45 seconds left, and the Bruins leave the ice to raucous cheers to close out a sensastional first period. They outshoot the Canucks, 18-11, chase Roberto Luongo with three goals on eight shots, score another on backup Cory Schneider, and now are plus-15 on the Canucks during the three games played at the Garden. Now it's just a matter of keeping up the intensity through the final 40 minutes.
18:45: Bruins power play looks much better, though the crowd is still imploring them to shoot more. Lucic nearly had a couple of open looks on the doorstep, but the passes didn't quite connect.
17:09: Bruins are back on the power play with Raffi Torres sent to the box to serve a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.
15:28: Alex Burrows misses an open net. Bruins fans enjoy that outcome. The Canucks are buzzing Thomas, but he's on his game, with nine saves so far.
15:09: Still no sign of Mason Raymond.
14:29: Vancouver kills the penalty, but the Bruins' first line continues to be at its active best, with Krejci and Peverley working together like they've been linemates all season.
10:32: Ryan Kesler sent off for holding. We'll see if the Bruins have any momentum on the power play after Ference's goal.
10:31: If you're keeping score at home -- and we know you are -- the Bruins have now outscored the Canucks, 16-1, at the Garden in this series.
9:45 first period, Bruins 4, Canucks 0: How well are things going for the Bruins at the moment? Even Tomas Kaberle is in on the fun. The maligned defenseman's blast from just outside the right point is deflected by Michael Ryder, and the puck eludes the helpless Schneider. This is just as you drew it up in your mind so far, right, Bruins fans?
8:35 first period, Bruins 3, Canucks 0: Andrew Ference scores the Bruins third goal in the last three-plus minutes -- on the power play, no less -- and like that, Leaky Luongo is out, and former BC netminder Cory Schneider is in. The tally for the Canucks' netminder: Three goals allowed. Five saves. And 17,500 Bruins fans letting him hear about it. (Assists to Ryder and Recchi.)
7:55:Alex Edler sent off for boarding after crushing Peverley into the boards. Bruins' power-play immediate stirs in front of Luongo.
7:55: Wisdom that must be shared from my colleague @GlobeFluto: "Luongo leaking. Has to stop that Lucic shot. Somebody pump his tires."
7:27: Bruins flash a "Win It For Horton" sign on the scoreboard, then show No. 18 smiling in the tunnel, looking perfectly healthy and waving a Bruins towel. If you're a Bruins fan, it's absolutely chill-inducing.
6:12 first period, Bruins 2, Canucks 0: Looks like Bad Roberto has shown up for the first period. Milan Lucic scores the Bruins' second goal in less than a minute, taking a gorgeous drop pass from Rich Peverley and beating Luongo five-hole. The Bruins couldn't have wished for a better start.
5:31 first period, Bruins 1, Canucks 0: And they do. Brad Marchand, the player Canucks fans regard in the same manner Bruins fans think of Alex Burrows, makes it happen, getting behind the Canucks defense and firing a quick shot high past Luongo. It's his ninth goal of the playoffs, and arguably his most important. Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi pick up the assists.
3:33: Each team with one shot so far, but Luongo looks a bit jittery. If the Bruins can get to him in the next few minutes . . .
:56: Zdeno Chara sent off for interference, while Henrik Sedin is called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Both teams are trying to establish the physical game immediately.
:20: Johnny Boychuk rides Mason Raymond into the boards, leaving the Vancouver forward face-down while being tended to by team personnel. After roughly a minute he's helped off the ice, hunched over. Raymond hasn't done much this series, but he's had his chances, and he's struck us as one of the few honorable Vancouver forwards. If he can't go, it's a significant blow to the Canucks.
Start of the first period: Rene Rancourt brings his A game during the National Anthem -- along with the rare triple-fist-pump, Bourque-style -- and we're underway.
Pregame: Bruins will start with start with the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi line. Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk form the defensive pairing, while Tim Thomas is pumping up no one's tires in net.
For the Canucks, the Chris Higgins-Ryan Kesler-Mason Raymond line will open, with Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehroff the defensive pairing. Roberto Luongo is in net.
As expected, Milt Schmidt, introduced with the tag "He's been a Bruin for seven decades," does the Fan Banner duties. It's tough to top Bobby Orr's appearance in Game 4, but Mr. Schmidt gets the building roaring.
* * *
What we know for sure is that the Bruins are about to play their final home game of the 2010-11 season.
What is to be determined, over the next 60 minutes of hockey, is whether the Bruins can extend their season to one more winner-take-all game.
Everyone in this hockey-mad city knows the stakes: With a victory tonight, the Bruins will force a Game 7 Wednesday at Vancouver, with the Stanley Cup the prize. A loss, and the Canucks, a truly aggravating nemesis, will celebrate on the Garden ice.
Given how the series has gone so far -- the Canucks have won all three games at Rogers Arena, the Bruins are 2-0 at home, having outscored the Canucks, 12-1, at the Garden -- it's easy to be confident in the Bruins' chances tonight.
Not only do they have the last line change -- an important tactical advantage, as Fluto Shinzawa writes here -- but a quick early goal or two against the Canucks' talented by occasionally erratic goalie Roberto Luongo would go a long way to forcing a Game 7.
According to pregame warmups, here are the Bruins lines. Most notably, Rich Peverley, who had two goals in Game 4, is on the first line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci.
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Tyler Seguin-Chris Kelly-Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Tomas Kaberle-Adam McQuaid
Rumor is Milt Schmidt will do the honors with the fan banner tonight. Stay right here for live updates throughout the game.