VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Roberto Luongo could pinpoint the precise moment he knew Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals would be a battle of the goalies.
“The drop of the puck in the first period,” said the Canucks goalie, who stopped 36 shots in Vancouver’s 1-0 victory over the Bruins.
“I mean, right away, Timmy made a few big saves in the first few minutes.Then they got their power-play [a double minor for high-sticking on Daniel Sedin that the Canucks killed off.] So after that I was feeling pretty good. As the game was moving along, obviously there wasn’t a lot of room. But when saves needed to be made, we were both making them.”
Thomas, who stopped 33 shots, faced more legitimate scoring chances than did Luongo, particularly during the third period, when the Canucks peppered him with 14 shots. Thomas was at his spectacular best . . . right up until Raffi Torres’s winner with 18.5 seconds left.
Torres’s goal was the latest go-ahead goal in a Stanley Cup finals game since Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux tallied with 13 seconds left in Game 1 during the 1992 finals.
“I had a feeling we were going to go to overtime and play for a little while here,” said Luongo, who recorded the first 1-0 shutout in the opening game of a Cup finals since 1984, when Grant Fuhr turned aside all 33 shots in the Oilers’ victory over the Islanders.
Luongo, as well as teammate Ryan Kesler, made the point after the game that it just counts as one win and their respect for the Bruins is deep.
“It’s a four out of seven. We’re happy to be able to get a win tonight. We know it’s going to be a long series, a tough grind.”