Tough to describe this loss for the Bruins as anything less than excruciating.
With just 18.5 seconds remaining in regulation, Raffi Torres scored the game’s lone goal, spoiling a 33-save effort by Bruins goalie Tim Thomas as the host Canucks took Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, 1-0.
The play was initiated along the right boards by Ryan Kesler, the star Canucks center who did not play at all as if he were hampered by a reported leg injury. He took possession of the puck, caught Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuck out of position, and fed a streaking Jannik Hansen, who fed Torres for the easy deflection past a helpless Thomas.
Roberto Luongo stopped 36 shots to earn the shutout for the Canucks. But it was Thomas who faced the stiffest challenge, particularly in the third period, when the Canucks put 14 shots on net.
Only the last one got by him. But it was enough to spoil the Bruins’ first Stanley Cup game since 1990, and Game 2 Saturday becomes essentially a must-win for the underdog Bruins.
19:41, third period, Canucks 1, Bruins 0: So much for overtime. Vancouver’s constant charge at Thomas this period is finally rewarded with just 18.5 seconds left in regulation when Raffi Torres scores his third goal of the playoffs, poking in a textbook right-to-left feed from Jannik Hansen after Kesler initiated the play by digging the puck out along the boards.
18:50: Ehrloff with a what-the-heck quick shot from the blue line that nearly fools Thomas but is wide gloveside.
17:30: Vancouver with 13 shots on Thomas so far this period, many of them quality chances. Right now it looks like the Bruins are content to play for overtime, with Vancouver still the aggressor.
14:41 The Rogers Arena crowd is buzzing after Alexander Edler stickhandles in and beats Thomas, only to have his shot hit the near post and ricochet into the opposite corner.
11:03: Fantastic chance for the Canucks when Hansen skates through the slot and feeds Maxim Lapierre for a tip at the right post, but Thomas stops it and then smothers the puck as Lapierre whacks away at it. Thomas has been particularly sharp this period.
Third period, Bruins 0, Canucks 0: The Bergeron story is generating plenty of buzz since CTV and Versus’s replays showed blood on his finger. As for the game itself, the Bruins and Canucks have swapped a couple of scoring chances in the early going, with nothing to show for it. Six minutes and 36 seconds into the period, it’s still scoreless, with the Bruins holding a 31-25 advantage in shots.
Bergeron confirms bite: Bergeron just went on Hockey Night in Canada between periods and confirmed Burrows bit him. Have to figure Burrows will get a game for that, right? Especially if Bergeron can present the incisor marks as evidence.
End of second period, Bruins 0, Canucks 0: It may be scoreless through 40 minutes, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacked entertainment. The game has been remarkably physical, but both sides have had their fair share of chances. The Bruins have been as effective against Vancouver’s power play — they’ve killed off all six — as they have been miserable when they have the advantage (they’re 0 for 4). Neither goalie has had to make more than a couple high-degree-of-difficulty saves, but Roberto Luongo (26 saves) and Tim Thomas (20) have been as steady as you’d expect from a scoreless tie.
18:12 Kesler deflects a Henrik Sedin shot on the doorstep, but Thomas plays it perfectly. The Canucks have closed the gap on shots now — the Bruins advantage is five, 25-20.
17:50: Bergeron sent off for tripping after taking down Jannik Hansen behind the Vancouver net. Can’t argue that one.
14:57: Suddenly, this is looks like Game 2 against the Lightning, with the Canucks and Bruins swapping back-and-forth chances. This style obviously plays into the Canucks’ hands, and they nearly got the first goal of the night moments ago when Chris Higgins batted a loose puck past Thomas, only to see it trickle to the right of the net. Hard to believe this one is still scoreless.
12:16: Henrik Sedin takes a total dive after a push from Andrew Ference. No word if his brother telepathically knew he was going to crumble to the ice there. Fortunately for the Bruins, the refs weren’t duped.
10:02: The Canucks have a two-man advantage for exactly 7 seconds. Rich Peverley is called for hooking at 9:55, but Burrows is called for tripping just a few ticks of the clock later, leading the Rogers Arena crowd to chant something we can’t print here. (Needless to say, it wasn’t “He bit Bergeron!”)
9:28: Kesler nearly gets the Canucks on the board, zipping down the middle after taking a pass from Bieksa, but he goes to the forehand and loses control of the puck just as he closes in on Thomas. Seidenberg is called for kneeing (don’t hear that one every game), and the Canucks are on the power play.
8:25: Shots are 22-12 in the Bruins’ favor. Very solid defensive effort so far.
6:00: Penalty killed. Now if the Bruins can do something about their own — they are 0 for 5 tonight and 5 for 66 in the postseason.
4:00: Hamhuis belts Lucic along the boards, Krejci retaliates, Hamhuis goes to the locker room, Krejci goes to the penalty box.
3:42: Canucks kill off both penalties. Related to that, Ryan Kesler does not look hampered by his leg injury at all.
1:24: Krejci with a sharp cross-ice feed to Recchi at the right post, but he redirects the puck into the side of the net. Golden chance there.
Second period, Bruins 0, Canucks 0: He may have stepped down from his job as the NHL’s discipline czar today, but Canucks fans may not be so ready to drop their pet theory that Colin Campbell influences the refs in the Bruins’ favor. Kevin Bieksa is sent off for high sticking 20 seconds into the period, and the Bruins will have a two-man advantage for 1:23.
Does Burrows bite? After Bergeron’s scrap with Alex Burrows at the end of the period, the Bruins forward showed his finger to the referees. The replay sure seemed to confirm it. Burrows was tagged with a double minor for roughing, while Bergeron got a roughing minor. It’ll be interesting to see if Burrows gets any further punishment — such as a seat for Game 2.
End of first period, Bruins 0, Canucks 0: The first 20 minutes concludes with no scoring but plenty of drama. At the final buzzer, Bergeron and Burrows get into a prolonged pushing match, while Chara has a lengthy conversation with Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis. No one is backing down. Looked like Burrows took a couple of jabs at Bergeron’s head.
At the first intermission, the Bruins hold a 17-12 shot advantage. The defense has been steady after Vancouver’s roaring start the first couple of minutes, and putting Chara in front on the power play looks like it may yield some results.
18:20: Marchand is belted into the boards by Sami Salo after the defenseman keeps him from getting a decent opportunity on Luongo. He resists any temptation he might have had to retaliate.
16:50: Scoreboard shows a video message from Dirk Nowitzki wishing the Canucks luck. Larry Bird would never do that. (The Mavericks’ star is friends with fellow German Christian Ehrhoff. Still, no love for Seidenberg, Dirk?)
15:25: Bruins kill it off. Vancouver’s vaunted power play is now 0 for 3. But the Bruins know better than to turn this game into a battle of special teams.
13:25: And now it’s the Canucks’ turn on the power play again, with Marchand sent off for holding the stick. He’s been his usual pesky self tonight, but he got caught there, and it’s obvious the Canucks are trying to get under his skin.
10:18: Alex Burrows sent off for holding. Suddenly, the Bruins will have a power play for a little more than a minute. My colleague Fluto Shinzawa points out that the Bruins have eight shots on the power play thus far. Positioning Chara in front has been working, at least in terms of generating attempts.
10:18: Daniel Sedin has an open look at the left post but can’t get the rebound to settle on his stick. Bullet dodged for the Bruins there.
8:47: Chris Kelly is sent off for high-sticking after whacking Ehrhoff in the face while lunging to poke the puck. The Bruins are outshooting the Canucks, 13-5, but the speed and skill of Vancouver’s forwards has been evident. This is a huge challenge for the Bruins’ penalty kill.
7:33 They’ve had their chances, the latest a Seidenberg shot that hit Luongo in the armpit blocker-side. He covered up before Chara could pounce on the rebound.
6:45: Good chance with Krejci feeding Nathan Horton in front — shades of Game 7 there — but Horton couldn’t seem to decide to shoot or to tip it to Chara in front, and Luongo poked it away.
5:17: Chara has been set up in front, and both Tomas Kaberle and Krejci have taken shots, something both have been reluctant to do at times. Good signs, though there’s nothing to show for it so far.
4:03: Anyone up for a prolonged look at the Bruins’ power play, which has been woeful this postseason? Because we’re going to get one — Daniel Sedin is sent off for four minutes for a double-minor for high sticking after the Marchand-Bergeron-Recchi trio created a scrum in front of Luongo. This would be a nice time for the Bruins to prove that a man advantage is a benefit, not a detriment.
3:10: David Krejci nearly sneaks one by Luongo at the left post, but can’t quite redirect the pass in time after a Vancouver turnover.
2:28: Vancouver is controlling play early, with four shots to the Bruins’ one.
:20, first period: Tim Thomas is tested right away when Henrik Sedin (he’s No. 33) feeds his brother Daniel (No. 22) inside the left circle. A good chance immediately for the hosts, but Thomas was up to the challenge.
World’s longest pregame: This place is insanely loud, though I’m not sure it’s as loud as the Garden last Friday when the final seconds ticked off the clock. It seems like every fan in the place is waving a white towel. Definitely an impressive atmosphere.
Lineups: The Bruins will start with the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi line, with Johnny Boychuk paired with Zdeno Chara on the blue line. The Dennis Seidenberg-Chara pairing had been spectacular against Tampa Bay, so it’s imperative that Boychuk, who has had an inconsistent postseason, plays well in front of goalie Tim Thomas.
For Vancouver, no surprises. It’s the Sedin twins up front along with Alex Burrows, with defensemen Sami Salo and Christian Ehrhoff. Roberto Luongo is in net.
Pregame introductions: Not much reaction from the Vancouver fans to the introduction of the Bruins, and even a few cheers for Vancouver native Milan Lucic when he’s shown on the scoreboard. Small sample-size, but they’re apparently more into cheering their own than booing the opposition.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The wait has been eight days for the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks, and five days for the Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins.
But noting the last time each team played a game doesn’t really do justice to how long the wait has actually been.
For the host Canucks, led by high-scoring twins Daniel and Henrik Sendin and all-everything center Ryan Kesler, it’s their first appearance in the Stanley Cup finals since 1994, when they were a roadblock on the way to New York Rangers history.
For the Bruins . . . well, you know. The last finals appearance was in 1990 against the mighty Edmonton Oilers. The wait has been much too long, but finally, they’re back, and the moment is near.
Opening faceoff of Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals is moments away here at Rogers Arena. The lights have dimmed, and the spotlight is on center ice in every way. Stay with us here at Boston.com as we blog all the action along the way.