VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sixteen years to the day the Boston Bruins last hoisted the Stanley Cup and rejoiced, Brad Marchand was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Scratch that. Make it "last hoisted the Stanley Cup" before tonight. Thanks to the two-goal performances of Marchand and linemate Patrice Bergeron, as well as another spectacular performance in net by Tim Thomas (37 saves), the Boston Bruins are at last rejoicing again.The Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks tonight at Rogers Arena, 4-0, becoming the Stanley Cup champions for the first time since the big, bad glory days of Orr and Espo in 1972. The victory ends a 39-year title drought and gives the Bruins a place on the pedestal (or the at least the duck boats) alongside the Celtics (2008), Patriots (2001, '03, '04) and Red Sox (2004, '07) as champions during this unprecendented era of all-around professional sports success in the city.
The victory was the Bruins' first here during the series in three tries here in Vancouver, which had won Games 1, 2, and 5 here despite scoring a total of just five goals on their home ice and eight overall in the series. The Bruins won all three games at the Garden by a 17-3 advantage, but winning in Vancouver was a tall challenge.
Of course, these Bruins, on determined path since blowing a three-game lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Philadelphia Flyers last postseason, have been up for every tall challenge they have faced during this playoff run, beating the rival Montreal Canadiens in seven games in the first round, avenging the previous loss to the Flyers with a sweep, then taking down the talented Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games to reach the Cup Finals against the gifted Canucks.
Tonight's challenge was also one they proved up to almost immediately, with Bergeron flipping a one-timer past beleagured Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo at the 14:37 mark of the first period to give the Bruins the crucial first goal.
The play was set up by the relentless rookie Marchand, who boosted the Bruins lead to 2-0 in the second period with a wraparound goal after beating Luongo to the far post at 12:13 of the second period.
Bergeron got his second of the night a little more than five minutes later on a shorthanded break in in which the puck trickled past Luongo as Bergeron and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff crashed into the net. Marchand iced the cake with an empty-netter at 17:16 of the third period.
The winning effort was typical of these Bruins, with so many players contributing to the clinching victory. Tireless defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had two assists. The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton was stellar defensively. Mark Recchi, the classy 43-year-old future Hall of Famer, had an assist in the final game of an NHL career than began in November 1988. Andrew Ference . . . David Krejci . . . Milan Lucic . . . Johnny Boychuk . . . and on it goes.
But it will be the 37-year-old Thomas who is remembered the most for what happened tonight. The Conn Smythe award winner as the MVP of the postseason, the affable goalie allowed the Canucks -- the highest scoring team in the NHL this season -- just eight goals in the seven games while setting a record for saves by one goalie in a single postseason. Until this postseason, Gerry Cheevers was the most beloved goalie in franchise history.
Tonight, he has company. And so do the rest of his teammates on those cherished 1970 and '72 champions.
The 2010-11 Boston Bruins have made some history of their own.
Final score: Bruins 4, Canucks 0: The gloves and sticks are on the ice. The arms are in the air. And Tim Thomas has been engulfed by his teammates. It looks exactly like you imagined all these years, Bruins fans.
The 39-year wait is over. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand each scored a pair of goals, and the Boston Bruins are the 2010-11 Stanley Cup champions. Once more, with emphasis: The Boston Bruins are the 2010-11 Stanley Cup champions.
Stay right here at Boston.com for much, much more tonight.
19:00: The Bruins are one minute away from winning the Stanley Cup. How's that look typed out?
17:16, Boston 4, Vancouver 0: The Canucks pull Luongo, and Marchand makes them pay, scoring his second of the night. Safe to say it's over yet? We'll say it. The Bruins are less than three minutes from being Stanley Cup champions. How does that sound?
13:34: Penalty killed. Canucks are outshooting the Bruins, 34-19. The Bruins are outscoring the Canucks, 3-0.
12:54: Marchand nearly gets one shorthanded, but the puck kicks wide of Luongo.
11:34: Milan Lucic called for hooking. The crowd awakens from it's slumber. The Paille line takes the ice.
10:09: Thomas covers up in front with Maxim Lapierre buzzing around. Twenty-eight for 28 so far. With his last save, he surpassed Kirk McLean for the second-most saves in one Cup Final. McLean was Vancouver's goalie in their seven-game loss to the Rangers in '94. Johnny Bower of the '64 Canadiens had 233 saves in the Final, four more than Thomas has at the moment.
9:30: Thomas gives up a long rebound on a Kevin Bieksa fling at the net, but the Bruins clear it away.
8:06: Daniel Sedin gets one of the Canucks' best chances of the night on a mini-breakaway after a Bruins turnover in the neutral zone, but his backhander is smothered by Thomas, who tips sideways to make sure the puck doesn't bounce loose. Twenty-five Canucks shots, 25 Thomas saves.
6:50: Not much going on for the Bruins on the power play, though Ryder nearly surprises Luongo with a quick wrister. Bruins are perfectly content to play their disciplined defensive game and let the clock tick.
5:33: First penalty on the Canucks, with Jannik Hansen banished to the box for interference.
3:17: Chris Higgins fires off a close range shot on Thomas that doesn't appear to make it to the net. The Canucks are desperate to get a goal, obviously, and they are playing like it.
0:40: Roberto Luongo, with 10 saves on 13 shots, is still in net for the Canucks, in case you were wondering if we might see Cory Schneider.
Start of the third period, Bruins 3, Canucks 0: First line out there for the Canucks, second line for the Bruins. And here we go.
Second intermission notes and quotes: Inspirational messages scrolling across the scoreboard: "If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it" . . . "It's a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness" . . . "Pain is temporary, victory is forever." . . . Unfortunately for Canucks fans, those who could use the inspiration most remain in the home locker room . . . The teams are 19-19 on faceoffs, with Vancouver outshooting the Bruins, 21-13 . . . The Sedins are each minus-3, meaning they've both been on the ice for all three of Boston's goals . . . Dennis Seidenberg leads the Bruins with 17:54 of ice time, while Johnny Boychuk is second (15:26). Zdeno Chara is relatively rested by his standards (16:34).
End of the second period, Bruins 3, Canucks 0: Twenty minutes. That's all that stands between the Bruins first Stanley Cup championship since the days of Orr and Espo in 1972. Patrice Bergeron has two goals, Brad Marchand a goal and an assist, and Tim Thomas has stopped all 21 Vancouver shots he has faced as the Bruins have scored as many goals through two periods as they have in the previous three games combined here in this series. We don't count our Stanley Cups before they've hatched around here, and neither do the Bruins, who are playing their usual disciplined game tonight. But . . . 20 minutes. I'll be back with some second period stats and the start of the third period shortly. Do not move, don't change the channel, and stay right here.
17:35, Bruins 3, Canucks 0: Goal. And it's suddenly very, very quiet in here.
17:35, Bruins 3, Canucks 0 . . . pending review, apparently: This could be the pivotal moment of the night right here. Patrice Bergeron appears to score his second goal of the night, this one in a shorthanded situation, when the puck trickles past Luongo as he's being hauled down by Christian Ehrhoff.
17:24: After a puck deflects into the stands, Kevin Bieksa raises his arms in frustration. Didn't like something there.
16:07: We have our first penalty more than 36 minutes into the game when Chara is banished to the box for interference. Coming off a TV timeout, the Canucks go with the Sedins/Burrows line. Huge, huge two minutes here for both sides. The Bruins have their fourth line out there after Chris Kelly wins the faceoff and is replaced immediately by Daniel Paille. Seidenberg and Boychuk are the defensemen to begin the penalty.
15:47: The Kesler line gets two or three golden opportunities on Thomas after Adam McQuaid loses his stick, but there's still nothing to show for it.
14:21: The goal is Marchand's 10th of the playoffs, building on his franchise rookie record for postseason goals.
12:13 second period, Bruins 2, Canucks 0: . . . and seconds later, Brad Marchand silences the Rogers Arena crowd, collecting a rebound of a Dennis Seidenberg shot to Luongo's left, slipping behind the net, and wrapping it inside the right post before Luongo could recover. It appeared that Luongo was impeded by Henrik Sedin, who banged into the goalie while trying to get to Marchand. Mark Recchi also picked up an assist.
11:47: Luongo slaps away a shot by Michael Ryder breaking into the zone . . .
11:02: The Canucks have outshot the Bruins, 6-2, this period, and two of the Bruins shots have come from fourth-liner Gregory Campbell.
10:15: With his stop of a Ryan Kesler shot at the 1-minute mark, Thomas set the all-time record for saves in a single postseason.
9:23: Chara turns the puck over to Alex Burrows in front of Thomas, then gets recovers to make the save when the goalie slides too far out of the net to try to defend the shot glove side. Could have been a brutal mistake by Chara, but he covered for his own blunder just in time.
5:30: Canucks hold a 13-5 shots advantage. Not an entirely accurate representation of how the game has gone, and not just because the Bruins are up a goal. Boston is playing its usual disciplined defensive game.
4:24: Another strong shift by the Bruins' fourth line. Meanwhile, the crowd is cheering any little thing they can to try to jump-start the Canucks, such as a rudimentary Henrik Sedin check of Chara. The seeds of desperation are planted.
2:01: Thomas with three sharp stops in the span of a minute against the Canucks' top line of Sedin, Sedin, and Burrows. Vancouver is playing determined offensive hockey right now.
1:15: Luongo bats away a close-range bid by Marchand, who navigated around Alex Edler. Great chance.
Start of the second period, Bruins 1, Canucks 0: The Peverley-Krejci-Lucic trio get it started for the Bruins.
First intermission notes and quotes: Haven't emphasized enough the quality play from the Bruins' fourth line of Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, and Shawn Thornton, who accounted for three of Boston's five shots in the first period . . . The Bruins outhit the Canucks, 22-20, with Milan Lucic leading the way with five. That's a major improvement for Claude Julien's squad over Game 5 here, when Vancouver seemed to catch the Bruins by surprise by setting the early tone physically . . . The Bruins won 53 percent of the faceoffs, with Mark Recchi, David Krejci, and Rich Peverley combining to win 5 of 6.
End of the first period, Bruins 1, Canucks 0: The Canucks controlled play for the majority of the period, outshot the Bruins, 8-5 . . . and yet the Bruins have to be pleased with where they stand. Patrice Bergeron's goal at 14:37 off a beautiful and perhaps fortuitous pass from Brad Marchand, who appeared to be targeting Mark Recchi. Scoring first was crucial for the Bruins tonight, and after weathering Vancouver's early energy, outplayed the home team in the second half of the period. So what's the key for the Bruins' in the second period? How about getting the second goal of the game.
19:47: If further evidence is required that anything short of maiming will not be called tonight, it was just presented right around the blue line in the Boston zone. The Canucks' Chris Higgins collided with an unsuspecting Zdena Chara high and hard while Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa was rushing the puck. Under most circumstances, it was probably interference, and Chara sold it as such. Under Game 7 circumstances, it's no harm, no penalty.
14:37, Bruins 1, Canucks 0: It's been said time and again that the Bruins need to score first here tonight. And they have. Patrice Bergeron one-times a feed from Brad Marchand past Luongo, and the Bruins have the lead. The goal is Bergeron's fifth of the playoffs, while the assist, which came after a deft spin move by Marchand along the sidewall, is his eighth. The pass appeared to be targeted for Mark Recchi, but it got through to Bergeron, who scored before Luongo could do anything about it. How important might this be? The team that has scored first has won all six games in this series.
14:29: No penalties so far, which benefits the Bruins given their significant advantage over the Canucks in 5 on 5 play this series. The referees, Dan O'Halloran and Stephen Walkom, also handled Game 7 of the Lightning series, when no penalties were called during the entire game.
14:05: This feels remarkably similar to the start of the previous three games here -- lots of energy, a few good chances, and no results on the scoreboard.
11:59: The Marchand-Bergeron-Recchi line did a nice job controlling play on their last shift. Luongo now has four saves.
10:29: Hansen has fit right in with Kesler and Higgins on the Canucks' second line, generating creative scoring chances.
8:10: The Canucks have outshot the Bruins, 6-3, and that's pretty indicative of how they've controlled play. Thomas has had to make 2-3 spectacular saves so far.
7:40: Rogers Arena shakes to its foundation when Mason Raymond, wearing a brace covering his full torso, is shown on the scoreboard exhorting the Canucks. The Canucks' in-house TV team reported he would not be here tonight, remaining behind in Boston after suffering a compressed verterbrae in his back when he was checked into the boards in Game 2, but he is in the building. The atmosphere is very similar to when injured Bruins forward Nathan Horton was shown on the Garden scoreboard during Game 6.
7:27: The Bruins' fourth line makes Luongo work, with Daniel Paille having the best opportunity glove-side on the Vancouver goalie.
5:37: Brad Marchand has been everywhere so far. You get the feeling that if the Bruins win, he'll be on the short list of reasons why. Meanwhile, Canucks fans let out a roar every time their team gains control of the puck.
4:05: David Krejci and Henrik Sedin swap quality close-range chances. Luongo and Thomas match each other with quality close-range saves. The tension is palpable.
2:18: Jannik Hansen, moved up to the second line to replace the injured Mason Raymond, gets a quick shot in the slot on Thomas but fires wide. Good chance. Seconds later, Luongo makes his first save, bringing chants of "Loooooo."
Start of the first period: The Canucks control play early, with their first shot on Tim Thomas coming at 18:03. Vancouver has come out flying in the previous three games here in this series, so the energetic start is no surprise. It's crucial that the Bruins get through the first five minutes or so without allowing the Canucks to get on the scoreboard.
Pregame: Bruins will start with the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi line, with Vancouver public enemy No. 1 Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara on defense. Tim Thomas is in net, of course.
The Canucks will open with their second line of Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins, with Jannik Hansen moving up to take over for the injured Mason Raymond. Sami Salo and Christian Ehrhoff are the defensive pairing, and Roberto Luongo is in net.
Mark Donnelly does a stirring rendition of "O, Canada." The guy who sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" might as well have done it in fast forward. And we're almost ready to go here in Game 7.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- What could be better than a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final?
Wait . . . I guess the answer is obvious, isn't it?
Winning a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final. Bringing the Stanley Cup back to Boston for the first time since those big, bad golden days in '72. Proving that Boston is again and always will be a hockey town. Building a lasting legacy for Tim Thomas and Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron and . . .
There we go, getting ahead of ourselves. It's just that it's difficult not to ponder the possibilities should the Bruins defeat the Vancouver Canucks tonight at Rogers Arena. But for the Bruins, there can be no anticipation of what's to come should they finish with the bigger number on the scoreboard tonight.
They must stay focused, knowing that the task is not easy -- Vancouver is 3-0 here during the Final, while the Bruins are 3-0 at the Garden. The Canucks clearly receive a jolt of energy from their remarkably dedicated fans, which is why it's imperative that the Bruins refuse to let the Canucks capture the momentum in the first few minutes; they've come out flying in each of the previous three games here, and each time the Bruins have withstood the onslaught.
The Bruins' best chance to seize the Cup on Vancouver ice tonight is an obvious one: Score on Roberto Luongo early, and get him thinking about his failures (15 goals allowed in essentially six periods in Boston) rather than his successes (two home shutouts). The Bruins also cannot allow the Canucks to establish physical play early, as they did during Game 5 here. The Bruins are the tougher team. They need to remind the Canucks of as much early and often tonight while remaining out of the penalty box.
The Bruins feature the same lineup as in Game 6. The Canucks are without talented second-line forward Mason Raymond, who suffered a compressed vertebrae when he was checked into the boards by the Bruins' Johnny Boychuk early in Game 2. Jeff Tambellini will replace him in the Vancouver lineup, with Jannik Hansen moving from the third to second line.
The rumors that Nathan Horton would be in the lineup tonight for the Bruins are not true, shot down adamantly by Claude Julien earlier today. The rumors that Nathan Horton poured Boston water on the Vancouver ice earlier tonight . . . well, it is Game 7. Anything to establish your turf is fair game.
Stay right here at Boston.com for updates throughout and after the game.