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Canucks getting love from fickle home fans

NHL.com @NHL

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Anyone curious why home ice has been such an advantage in the Stanley Cup finals only needs to look back at the second period of Game 5 in Vancouver.

Pinned in their own end for almost two minutes in a scoreless game, the Canucks appeared on the verge of giving up the crucial first goal that has led to wins in every game of the series.

But halfway through the shift - two shifts for the Bruins, who actually managed a line change without giving up the zone - a chant of "Go Canucks Go!" rang out. Vancouver survived the shift, got the puck out of its end for a line change, and scored the only goal in the third period.

"It can provide a lift," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "That's just a great Canadian city where they understand we've been hemmed in our zone for a minute and a half, and the legs are heavy. For them to get that chant going just gives you that little extra boost to get through the shift, and it worked."

That chant qualifies as an unusual development in Vancouver, where the cosmopolitan West Coast fan base hasn't always provided unconditional love. When the team is struggling, Canucks fans always seem to be waiting for the other puck to drop.

Goalie Roberto Luongo knows how fickle the faithful can be in Vancouver, a city well-versed in playoff letdowns. Luongo acknowledged feeling tension every time he went out to handle the puck after surrendering a goal on a giveaway in the Western Conference finals against San Jose.

The mood has changed in the Cup finals.

"It's definitely a cyclical relationship in the arena," said Manny Malhotra, who got a massive ovation when he returned for Game 2 after missing almost three months with a career-threatening eye injury. "We build off their energy and we try to give them as much to cheer about as possible. They've done an incredible job of making sure home-ice advantage is exactly that."

It's been a common theme the last three Stanley Cup finals, with home teams winning each of the first five games in both of the past two springs. Chicago ended the trend at five games and clinched the Cup in Philadelphia in Game 6, while Pittsburgh won Game 7 in Detroit to snap the home streak in 2009.

The Canucks are counting on fan support as they try to hold serve in a series already featuring six home victories. Only three times in Stanley Cup finals history has a home team won all seven games: in 2003, 1965 and 1955.

"Both arenas are really factoring into the results," Bieksa said. "It's home-ice advantage for a reason. Our crowd is really loud and we feed off them, and (Boston's fans) are the same. At home, (the Bruins) feed off them and are more physical."

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KABERLE DOUBLE: Frantisek Kaberle wants another Stanley Cup champion in the family, and his little brother is trying to oblige him.

Boston defenseman Tomas Kaberle is one win away from joining his brother, who scored the Carolina Hurricanes' winning goal in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals.

"We talk pretty much every night," said Tomas Kaberle, who has 11 assists in 24 games for Boston this spring. "Last night, we were talking about how nice it would be to have two Stanley Cups in the family."

Frantisek Kaberle now plays in the Czech Extraliga, but spends part of his time with his family in North America. The Kaberle family already has plenty of champion hardware from multiple world championship titles won by the brothers and their father, Frantisek Sr.

"He said there's a lot of intensity in those games," said Tomas Kaberle, who joined the Bruins during the season in a trade from Toronto. "Everything means a lot. You just have to be ready for that challenge."

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SUPPORT SOX: The Bruins' drive toward a championship has been a topic of discussion in the clubhouse of the Boston Red Sox, who know a few things about ending a long title drought.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona talked on the phone with Bruins coach Claude Julien after the Bruins dropped the first two games of finals.

"He said he appreciated the call," Francona said before Tuesday night's game at Tampa Bay.

Designated hitter David Ortiz has never played hockey, but has a good feeling about the Bruins in Wednesday night's decisive Game 7.

"I think they're going to bring the Cup back," Ortiz said.

Ortiz got a big smile when asked what his hockey position would be.

"I would fight every two minutes," he said with a laugh.

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TORRES RELATES: Canucks forward Raffi Torres knows better than most players how fickle momentum can be with the Stanley Cup on the line.

Torres is the only active Vancouver player with experience in the Cup finals. He figured his first trip was going to end happily when his Edmonton Oilers beat Carolina easily 4-0 in Game 6 in 2006 to force a decisive Game 7.

But the Hurricanes, backstopped by Conn Smythe-winning rookie goalie Cam Ward, clinched the Cup with a 3-1 victory in Game 7 on home ice.

"The main thing is to leave it all out there," said Torres, who has two assists in the finals for Vancouver since scoring the only goal in Game 1. "At the end of the day, you don't want regrets out there."

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EXPENSIVE SEATS: Ticket brokers had plenty of seats available for Game 7 on Tuesday, but only for people willing to part with a few thousand dollars.

Listings on the ticker broker website StubHub ranged from $2,000 for a single seat in the upper levels to $9,000 for one in the lower bowl - and that was 22 rows up in the corner of expansive Rogers Arena.

The average asking price for roughly 250 tickets available on the website at midday was just over $3,000, but the average sale price was $1,975. According to StubHub, two tickets in row 12 of the lower bowl sold for $6,500 on Monday.

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NOTES: The Bruins hope to join the 1971 Montreal Canadiens and the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, who are the only teams to win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals on the road after the home teams won the first six games. ... With his first save in Game 7, Boston G Tim Thomas will set the record for saves in a single postseason. He's tied with Vancouver G Kirk McLean, who made 761 during the Canucks' run to Game 7 of the finals in 1994. ... Home teams are 12-3 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. ... Bruins F Mark Recchi has 12 points in his past 13 Stanley Cup finals games after getting three assists in Game 6. He has six points in six games for Boston after a slow start to the postseason, and he scored six points in seven games with Carolina in 2006.

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AP freelance writers Kevin Woodley in Vancouver and Mark Didtler in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.

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