-- If the Boston Bruins
made a list before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final of tasks they needed to perform Wednesday night to defeat the Vancouver Canucks
at Rogers Arena, there would be a lot of checkmarks after the contest.
Shut down Vancouver's prolific power play? Check. Zdeno Chara
and Dennis Seidenberg
win the battle against Henrik and Daniel Sedin
? Check. Create more chances on the power play? Check. Receive a standout performance from goaltender Tim Thomas
And yet the Bruins are now down 1-0 in this series, after Raffi Torres
scored the game's only goal with 18.5 seconds left in regulation.
"It (stinks) that we lost there in the last 18 seconds but I think we did a lot of good things tonight," forward Milan Lucic
said after the 1-0 loss. "We had good movement on our power play, we were able to get 36 shots tonight which was a pretty good sign. We had a couple scoring chances; we have to find a way to bear down on. The thing for us is when we're going to the net, we're going there with the purpose of not being denied. That's where we're finding those loose pucks."
If the Canucks are, on paper, a more talented club -- as many pundits have suggested -- then the Bruins are going to need Thomas to give them some spectacular performances. The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner and 2011 finalist looked every bit the part in Game 1.
Thomas turned aside the first 33 shots he faced, but he had no chance on No. 34 -- a one-timer into a wide-open net by Torres after two perfect passes from Ryan Kesler
and Jannik Hansen
"We need to reward him for his efforts, and that is the bottom line," Lucic said. "He played real well. He made a lot of great saves out there. We have a lot of confidence in him that he's going to keep playing the way he is."
Vancouver had the best power play among the final eight teams in this postseason, converting more than 28 percent of its chances through the first three rounds. The Canucks had six chances with the extra man in Game 1, but the Bruins' penalty-killers were up to the task.
Conversely, the Bruins have been terrible on the man advantage this postseason, but their PP showed signs of life in Game 1. Boston also went 0-for-6 with the extra man, but the Bruins produced 12 shots on goal.
"I think our power play was better tonight than it had been in a while," Boston coach Claude Julien
said. "We spent a lot of time, we had some shots, had some opportunities, had some chances. We didn't score. Obviously when your power play isn't doing well, people are going to criticize because you didn't score. But I think the same thing happened on the other side. As long as we're able to stay on even terms with them when it comes to special teams, we're OK with that."
The Bruins kept the Canucks off the scoreboard for more than 59 minutes, but also failed to capitalize on any of own their chances. They were less than 20 seconds from getting to overtime, a situation most any visiting team will take in a playoff game.
Several Boston players said there were plenty of positives to take from this defeat. Both teams will have two days to ruminate on what they did wrong -- and right.
The Bruins may have missed a great chance to steal Game 1. But given the crazy nature of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning
, they should probably know about the lack of momentum at times from game to game in the postseason.
"I think we played a real good road game, to be honest with you," Julien said. "To be in the situation we were after two periods, I didn't mind it, especially against this hockey club. I thought our PK did a great job against their power play. Timmy made the big saves when he had to. Like I said, for two periods, I was pretty pleased. Obviously, (in the) third period they were the better team and they ended up scoring that goal. It got away from us, but we still got an opportunity here in the next game to hopefully get that one and kind of get the home-ice advantage."
Added Thomas: "I don't think you should have those emotional highs and lows during these kinds of series because that will tire you out when it comes to seven games. I think that is part of why we beat Tampa. They had too much of an emotional high when they won Game 6. It is the same on the other side. You can't have the emotional lows."