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If Canucks solve Garden, Cup could be reward

Saturday, 06.11.2011 / 3:40 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Canucks v Bruins

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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If Canucks solve Garden, Cup could be reward
After two rough showings in Games 3 and 4 in Boston, the Canucks return to their house of horrors with the Stanley Cup on the line.
VANCOUVER -- The Canucks are one win away from the franchise's first Stanley Cup, holding a 3-2 lead against the Boston Bruins in the best-of-seven series. They can wrap it up Monday night at TD Garden, a building where they were thoroughly dominated during Games 3 and 4 of this series.

A victory Monday can turn that house of horrors into the sight of the biggest celebration Canucks fans have ever seen. After losing by a combined 12-1 score in those two games, captain Henrik Sedin believes Friday's 1-0 win in Game 5 at Rogers Arena has the Canucks on track to end the series on the road in Game 6.

"Looking back on those games, I felt we were pretty spread out as a team," Sedin said. "Forwards didn't come back and help the 'D.' 'Ds' didn't join us on the rush, either. I think tonight, as a five-man unit, I think everyone played really well. We're a tough team to play when we play this way.

"We've got a long way to go. It's tough winning in Boston. I think we realize now how we have to play. We have to bring the same game on the road."

In the three games at Rogers Arena, the Canucks played strong defensive hockey and punished the Bruins physically at every opportunity. The constant stream of body checks wore down the Bruins in those games and resulted in late game-winning goals for Vancouver. In Game 5, the Canucks threw 47 hits and finally broke through on Tim Thomas early in the third period when Maxim Lapierre scored the game's lone goal after the Bruins were caught out of position.

That physical style wasn't present in the same way in Game 3 and was nonexistent in Game 4, when the Canucks were credited with just 27 hits. Ryan Kesler expects the Canucks to not lose sight of why they have been so successful at home in this series when they take the ice Monday night in Boston.

"I just think we learned from (Game 4) and put a really solid game on the ice (in Game 5)," Kesler said. "I'm not even going to think about those two games going into Boston. We're going to put the same game plan out there that we did tonight."

Goaltender Roberto Luongo could be the key. He has been brilliant at home in the playoffs, going 10-3 with a 1.71 goals-against average, a .943 save percentage and four shutouts. On the road, he's been an entirely different goaltender, going 5-5 with a 3.49 GAA and .885 save percentage.

Luongo said his numbers don't matter, as long the Canucks find a way to win.

"Whether it's 1-0 or 8-1, a win is a win and a loss is a loss," Luongo said. "So right now, we're up 3-2 and we have a good opportunity come Monday night. That's what we're going to focus our attention on starting tomorrow."

The Canucks are 3-4 in the playoffs when they have a chance to win a series, but 3-1 since losing three straight to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round after jumping to a 3-0 series lead.

Focusing on simply playing a game and not the prize that awaits with victory could be the Canucks' biggest challenge with two days off between Games 5 and 6.

"You've heard me say this a thousand times and it will be a thousand-and-one now -- one game at a time," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We're going to take tomorrow to travel to Boston, relax, have a good practice the next day, and then we're going to focus on the process, focus on what we need to do to put our best game on the ice."

"We go with the attitude of win one for the Stanley Cup," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "We don't need any more motivation than that. We'll give it our best in Boston and see what happens."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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