The Vancouver Canucks shutout the Boston Bruins 1-0 for the second time in the Stanley Cup Final Friday night at Rogers Arena to take a 3-2 series lead.
Maxim Lapierre played hero scoring his third career playoff game-winner 4:35 into the third period and that was enough as the Canucks held on to rebound from back-to-back poor outings in Boston to move within a game of winning the Stanley Cup.
This is the second time in franchise history the Canucks will play for the Holy Grail and 11th time in Stanley Cup Final history that a team winning Games 1 and 2 at home prior to dropping Games 3 and 4 on the road have captured Game 5.
History is apparently kind.
Through 40 minutes Game 5 was a carbon-copy of Game 1 of the Cup Final as both Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas went toe-to-toe stopping everything in sight; Luongo had 21 saves after the second, while Thomas had 18 stops.
Thomas shutout Vancouver in Game 4 and was flawless through two periods, but the Canucks pressed on, confident that a bounce was coming. When Kevin Bieksa snapped the puck into the Bruins zone from the Boston blueline early in the third period, the bounce presented itself.
Bieksa appeared to have missed the net, but it was a set play that worked as a pass with the puck ricocheting off the Air Canada rink board behind Thomas and right to Lapierre, who had set up shop to the Thomas’ right.
It took Lapierre a nanosecond to put the puck over the goal line and give the Canucks a lead they would not relinquish.
Lapierre said he was at the “right spot at the right time,” but set play or not, his goal celebration was clearly fresh from his bag of tricks. The Lappy Dance consisted of some running on the spot before throwing a fist-pump and jumping into the glass, turning to greet his teammates with open arms.
“It's been six months I'm thinking about a goal, so it's been a long time,” said Lapierre. “I had so many in my head I didn't know what to do, so just started jumping.”
There was no jumping for Luongo, who finished the game with 31 saves after giving up 12 goals on 58 shots in Games 3 and 4. This was Luongo’s second shutout in three home games in the Final, however, and he now has six shutouts lifetime against Boston, his highest total versus any team in the NHL.
That’s quite a rebound game for a guy doubted by the majority of Canucks fans all over the world heading in.
Luongo never doubted himself and that made all the difference.
“It's not the first time it's happened, so I know what I need to do to get ready and have my "A" game,” said Luongo. “I thought we all played well and stepped up our level of play to take it to a new level to win this game. We do whatever it takes and that's what we need to do if we want to win the last one here.”
Luongo’s journey to Game 5 included a tour around part of the seawall in Vancouver to help him collect himself prior to playing one of the biggest games of his career.
“I put my hoody on and my headphones, and I don't know if somebody said anything, I couldn’t hear. I just focus on the journey and everything I need to do to be ready for the game and that's what gets me prepared.”
“I don't know if they have any seawalls in Boston, but I'm going to look for that.”
According to Kevin Bieksa, Chris Tanev was so cool, calm and collected in his first Stanley Cup Final appearance, and just his third ever playoff game, that “he could have played with a cigarette in his mouth.”
“I thought he played very very well, very consistent, very cool with the puck,” added Bieksa.
It’s tough to argue with Bieksa as he hit the nail on the head in regards to the play of 21-year-old Tanev.
Paired with Andrew Alberts for the majority of the night, although he played a few shifts alongside Christian Ehrhoff as well, Tanev was wise beyond his years. His goal going into Game 5 was to keep it simple, play well positionally and try not to get outmuscled by a Bruins team he viewed as big, strong, fast and dangerous.
In 12:15 of ice time, all but five seconds of which played at even strength, Tanev had one blocked shot, nothing more, nothing less. The nothing less is the important part as eight Canucks had at least one turnover, but not Tanev.
“I just wanted to stay simple, stay calm and don’t do too much, don’t do what you can’t do,” said Tanev, who replaced Keith Ballard in the line-up. “Let the guys who have 100 points try to score, I’m just trying to get the puck up to them.”
Nerves played a part in Tanev hitting the Stanley Cup stage and rightfully so. It didn’t take Tanev long to adjust though.
“Probably my first shift,” laughed Tanev, “guy dumped it in and the legs didn’t feel too well when I went to go grab the puck.”
The Vancouver Canucks can win the Stanley Cup Monday night…thoughts on that coach Vigneault?
“You've heard me say this a thousand times and it will be a thousand and one now: one game at a time,” smiled Vigneault.
“We're going to take tomorrow to travel to Boston, relax tomorrow, 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.”
A personal thank you to Canucks fans near and far for their unmatched effort in Game 5, especially those who made Rogers Arena an insane asylum throughout the contest.
I’ve heard a lot of arenas at their peak and none have ever compared to Rogers Arena Friday night. It made a bigger difference than you’ll ever know.
The team that scores first is now 5-0 in the Stanley Cup Final; Vancouver is now 5-0-2 after being shutout this season, outscoring opponents 25-13; the Canucks went 0-for-3 on the power play to sit 1-for-25 in the Final; Vancouver has won five consecutive home games outscoring teams 18-9.