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Canucks back home for pivotal Game 5 vs. Bruins

by Emily Kaplan /

(Best-of-seven series tied, 2-2)


Big story:
What a difference four days can make.

When the Canucks defeated the Bruins 3-2 in overtime of Game 2 last Saturday night, Vancouver grabbed a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. All the talk surrounding the series seemed to be about whether the Canucks could complete the sweep.

By the end of Game 4 on Wednesday night, Boston had demonstrated the series is not over -- in fact, it's far from it. After two close losses in Games 1 and 2, the Bruins emphatically stormed back to tie the series, winning a pair of games at TD Garden in dominant fashion.

Boston outscored the Canucks 12-1 in Games 3 and 4, including a 4-0 shutout in Game 4 in which goalie Tim Thomas turned aside 38 shots.

So with the series shifting back to Vancouver for Game 5 on Friday night, all the momentum seems to be on the Bruins side.

Team Scope:

Bruins: Thomas has been the backbone for the Bruins' comeback in the series, but his offense has been giving him plenty of help.

Thomas' 38-save shutout in Game 4 increased his save total in the 2011 playoffs to 701. Only one goaltender has stopped more pucks in one playoff season -- Vancouver's Kirk McLean during the Canucks' run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993-94. Thomas has been sensational throughout the Final -- producing a highlight-reel worthy save seemingly every period -- and he's a large reason why the Bruins have a chance to win the series.

Meanwhile, Boston's offense has stepped up big time. After scoring just two goals in the first two games combined, the Bruins have erupted for 12 goals in the last two games.

Filling in for Nathan Horton -- Boston's second-leading scorer who is sidelined for the rest of the series with a severe concussion -- doesn't seem to be a problem. Rich Peverley, who took Horton's spot on the top line, scored two goals for the Bruins on Wednesday night.

Canucks: Not much is going well for the Canucks right now.

Vancouver's 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final has vanished, and there's plenty of blame to spread around. Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin, who combined for 198 points in the regular season, have only two points in the series. Combined, they're a minus-3 in the four games and had only six shots in the two losses at TD Garden.

Meanwhile goaltender Roberto Luongo was pulled early in the third period of Game 4, and the Vezina Trophy finalist struggled mightily after the series shifted from Vancouver to Boston.

In Game 3, Luongo allowed eight goals on 38 shots while in Game 4, he surrendered four goals on 20 shots before being pulled in favor of backup Cory Schneider with 16:21 remaining.

However, the Canucks aren't pointing fingers at Luongo, just as they aren't laying the blame on the Sedins, either. They insist that, as a group, they collectively need to get better to bring the Cup back to Canada.

"This is a team," center Manny Malhotra said. "Especially in playoff hockey, you're not pointing fingers anywhere. [Luongo] did a great job making some big saves for us, but we just made too many errors in front of him."

Who's hot: Thomas recorded his third shutout of the playoffs Wednesday night and is inching closer to the all-time record of most saves in a single postseason. The Bruins are 6-0 in the playoffs when Thomas stops 35 or more shots. … Bruins forward David Krejci has recorded five points in the last three games, including two assists in Game 4 and a goal and an assist in Game 3. … Vancouver's Maxim Lapierre has won 18 of 27 faceoffs (67 percent) in the last two games.

Injury report: Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. … Boston's Nathan Horton is out for the remainder of the series with a severe concussion he sustained from a hit by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome in Game 3. Rome is also out for the remainder of the series after being suspended four games for that hit.

Stat pack: Home teams are 4-0 in the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive season. In the 20 years prior to 2009, the home team won the first four games just once -- in 2003 when New Jersey beat Anaheim in a series that saw the home team win all seven games. ... With Boston's 4-0 win in Game 4 at the TD Garden, home teams improved to 15-2 in the Stanley Cup Final since 2009.

Puck drop: "It's 2-2 and that's the way you look at it. They won their two at home and we won our two, so it looks like it could be a homer series and luckily we have two of the next three at home." -- Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa

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