The Goods: Man ad-Van-tage
That was not just another game.
Far from it.
The Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden in Boston in a rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
There was no championship on the line, but the Canucks played like there was.
Special teams ensured a special return to the building where Vancouver was winless in three games during the Final; the power play clicked four times and the penalty kill went 6-for-6 to help the Canucks upend the hottest team in the NHL, one throttling its opposition of late.
Less that four minutes into the game it looked like the Bruins were literally going to throttle the Canucks as chaos broke loose in front of the team benches. Alex Burrows and Shawn Thornton were the instigators in what began as a stick fight and ended with all 10 players face-to-face with the enemy.
The only real fight to come of it was between Dale Weise and Nathan Horton, but when the dust settled, the Canucks had a 5-on-3 power play. Boston was assessed an extra two-minute minor out of the melee and Milan Lucic was ejected for leaving the Bruins bench to join in the fisticuffs.
The Canucks made them pay.
Ryan Kesler scored on the ensuing man advantage and Vancouver was off to the races. Although Boston evened the game before the end of the first, the Canucks were resilient
in the middle frame when things got nasty again, and they even fell behind 2-1.
Vancouver mounted next to no offence for 15 minutes of the second period, then in a flash Burrows and Henrik Sedin scored back-to-back power play goals in a span of 4:26 to put the Canucks in front 3-2.
Early in the third the Canucks were again on the power play and Cody Hodgson stepped into a shot like he never has before putting the puck off the crossbar and in for the eventual game-winner, the first of his NHL career.
The Bruins countered once more and pressed throughout the third period, but Cory Schneider, making his first start in his hometown, stepped up to the challenge.
Schneider stopped 36 shots in all, 18 of which flew his direction in the third period alone.
If Schneider was excited to get the nod in goal, he was ecstatic to get the win. That was a mutual feeling in the Canucks dressing room post-game.
“It’s a big win, we wanted to win the game going in, not that we had anything to prove, but we’d like to have a little bit of success in this building and put to rest some of the
critics and I think we did that,” said Kevin Bieksa, who had two assists in a team-high 28:05 of ice time, 8:09 on the penalty kill.
“It was a pretty complete effort, everybody chipped in in different areas and here we are victorious. No Stanley Cup, but we still won the game.”
They went in for two points and they got it. The Canucks can’t wear them as an eternal badge of honour, but Vancouver is definitely open to a rematch for the Cup.
In the first period of Saturday’s game there were 72 penalty minutes assessed.
You read that correctly. Seventy-two penalty minutes in 20 minutes of play.
It was old-time hockey in Boston.
The mosh pit in front of the benches got the party started, then it was clear late in the third when Maxim Lapierre and Gregory Campbell dropped their gloves at centre ice and threw down like they were out in the school yard that the bad blood between these teams is alive and well.
The Canucks were finally able to respond to the Bruins physical intensity.
There were 107 penalty minutes issued in total, 55 to Boston and 52 to Vancouver.
“They’re one of the biggest, toughest teams in the league and I don’t think we really wanted to go head to head with them, but we’re certainly not going to back down from them,” said Kevin Bieksa.
“We showed that at the beginning, we stood our ground, big fight by Weise and Max is a character guy and is someone asks him to fight, he’s going to fight and stick up for himself. He did a great job there and after that we played hockey and I think hockey wise, we’re a better team than them.”
Laser beam. Cannon. Bullet.
All the above.
Cody Hodgson’s third period goal, which counted as the game-winner, the first of his NHL career, came out of nowhere in a sense. He’s displayed an ability to blow the puck past netminders this season, but this one surprised everyone, including Tim Thomas.
After taking a pass from Dan Hamhuis as he entered the Bruins zone, Hodgson crossed the blueline and let a shot rip from the top of the circle. That ping sound, the one that echoed through the Garden, was the puck going off the crossbar and in.
“He’s a great goaltender, one of the best in the league the last few years,” said Hodgson, giving credit to Thomas. “I had a great pass by Hamhuis to get the puck up the ice and I just tried to get it on net.”
He nearly broke the net with it.
“It’s a good feeling,” he smiled. “We came out trying to play a more physical game and they tried to push us around, but I thought we did well sticking up for ourselves and we played the game when it mattered.”
morning cartoons." -@emhalston, tweeting on behalf of all the fans who loved the 10 a.m. puck drop.
Boston. The last time the Canucks lost on the seventh day of any year was during the 1997-08 season.
riding 89:28 and counting. Boston’s finished at 121:17, Vancouver’s was halted at 104:25.
has outscored its opposition by a 45-30 margin over the final 20 minutes of play.