The Stanley Cup was resting in its carrying case, ready to be transported to TD Garden for its annual shining moment.
Now it's on its way to Vancouver. The Boston Bruins
emphatically made sure of that Monday at TD Garden.
Boston 5, Vancouver 2.
The Bruins rocked the Canucks for the third time in as many games on their home ice. They scored four times before 10 minutes had elapsed, chasing Roberto Luongo
to the bench and setting themselves up for a free ride into Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday at Rogers Arena.
"We've created ourselves another opportunity, and it's up to us to take advantage of it," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team is 0-3 at Rogers Arena in this series. "But we've got to be hungrier than we have been the last three times in Vancouver."
The Bruins' created their chance to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 39 years by scoring four goals in a span of 4:14 in the first period, setting a record for the fastest four goals by one team in the Stanley Cup Final. It shattered the previous mark of 5:29, set by the Montreal Canadiens in 1956.
Boston scored its four goals within the first 9:45 of the game, but Luongo was benched 70 seconds earlier after giving up his third goal on eight shots. Backup Cory Schneider
gave up a goal to Michael Ryder on the second shot he faced, but he made 30 saves over the course of his 35-plus minutes.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said Luongo would start Game 7.
"I don't have to say anything to him," Vigneault said. "He's a professional. His preparation is beyond reproach and he's going to be ready for Game 7."
Luongo thought he'd be ready for Game 6, but Brad Marchand
beat him high to the short side 5:31 into the game and Milan Lucic
beat him through the five-hole 35 seconds later. Once Andrew Ference
's shot from the left point sailed untouched through traffic and whizzed past Luongo for a power-play goal 8:35 into the game, Vigneault gave his battered goalie the hook.
Luongo's final stats in three starts at TD Garden in the Stanley Cup Final read like a horror story: 8.05 goals-against average, .773 save percentage. He allowed 15 goals on 66 shots over 111 minutes and 52 seconds of playing time. He was pulled in the third period of Game 4 and before nine minutes had elapsed in the first period of Game 5.
He left to the fans serenading him with a derisive "Luuuuu-ongooo, Luuuuu-ongooo, Luuuuu-ongooo" chant that started up again midway through the second period and came and went as the rest of the game unfolded.
At least Game 7 is at home, where Luongo is 3-0 with two shutouts, a 0.67 GAA and .979 save percentage in this Final.
"I have to believe in myself, right? That's a big component of bouncing back and playing a good game," said Luongo, who bounced back after two bad starts and a benching in the first round to make 31 saves in a Game 7 victory over Chicago. "We're going to put what happened tonight behind us and get ready for what is going to be a dream as far as playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final."
By the end of Boston's scoring barrage, every Canuck except Tanner Glass, Jannik Hansen
and Mason Raymond
was a minus-1.
Raymond, though, had no chance to help his team as he was injured 20 seconds into the contest when he was rammed backside-first into the corner boards by Johnny Boychuk
. He was helped off the ice by Chris Higgins
and Ryan Kesler
and was taken to the hospital. No further update was given from the Canucks, but it's not looking good for Raymond as far as his availability for Game 7.
"I'm sure for one game we have guys who can step in and play those minutes," Henrik Sedin
said. "There are guys up in the press box that are waiting for their chance, and they're going to show up like they have been."
The Bruins want to show up in Game 7 better than they have been in the three previous games in Vancouver. They've scored only two goals in 180 minutes and 11 seconds at Rogers Arena.
"Not too many people counted on us being at this point right now. It's a great feeling," said Boston's 43-year-old veteran Mark Recchi, who had 3 assists in Game 6 and could be playing his final NHL game in Game 7. "It's coming down to one game. This is what we dream of, when you're little kids playing street hockey, you know, you're in Game 7. We're going to go up there and we're going to go lay it on the line like they are, and I think it's going to be an exciting game. We're going to do whatever we can."
Surprisingly, the Canucks actually felt good about the way they played -- save for the stretch of four-plus minutes in the first period. Vancouver didn't solve Boston goalie Tim Thomas
(36 saves) until Henrik Sedin
beat him for a power-play goal 22 seconds into the third period with a backhander from the slot.
It was Henrik Sedin
's first point of the series and it appeared as though the Canucks were going to try for the comeback.
Less than three minutes later, Jannik Hansen
thought he had a goal off a one-timer from the slot. He even raised his arms to celebrate, but after video review it was clear that the puck hit off the bottom part of the left post and came out.
The Canucks proceeded to take back-to-back penalties, and David Krejci
slammed the door on any potential comeback with a 5-on-3 power-play goal off a pretty cross-crease feed from Recchi 6:59 into the third. Maxim Lapierre
added a goal for the Canucks off a feed from Daniel Sedin
, but it was simply window dressing.
The fans had fun chanting "Luuuuu-ongooo" a few more times and then "We want the Cup" before pouring out onto Causeway Street for a celebration.
Will it resume Wednesday with Boston's first Stanley Cup party since 1972, or will Vancouver get the celebration it's been waiting for since the Canucks were born in 1970?
Game 7 at Rogers Arena starts at 8 p.m. ET (NBC, CBC, RDS). One of these franchises won't be suffering for too much longer.
"We've had pressure all year, pressure all through the playoffs," Recchi said. "It's come down to one game. There is no pressure. Go play. Go out and have fun with this. It's what you play for and what we've worked hard for all year. We're going to have a blast."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl