That was a heck of a hockey game! It was easily the best of the series for me. Like a good bout, both sides had chances throughout the contest. After watching this one, I fully expect this series to go the distance. (I guess that means I'm picking the Bruins to win Monday's Game 6.) Here's what I took away from this game.
With the weight of the hockey world on his shoulders, Roberto Luongo
came up huge after two dreadful efforts in Boston. He was particularly strong in the first period when the Bruins had three power play opportunities.
The big goaltender caught a break in the opening minutes when Chris Kelly
's off-wing wrister caromed off the crossbar. I thought Luongo was at his best turning away back-to-back chances from Patrice Bergeron
with about five minutes left in the opening stanza.
In the end, Luongo made 31 saves en route to his second shutout of the series. Can he bring the same kind of performance in Game 6?
At the other end, Tim Thomas
was nearly as good. He made a terrific blocker/pad stop on Mason Raymond
at the 5:29 mark of the first period to keep the game scoreless. Like his rival at the other end, Thomas caught a big break in the second period when Canucks winger Tanner Glass
fanned on a chance at an open net.
In the end, the only goal that was scored barely made it over the goal line. Thomas got his body on Maxim Lapierre
's bad-angle shot, but the puck bounced off the goalie and trickled into the net. Seconds earlier, Thomas denied Lapierre with a right pad stop on a great chance from in tight.
The Bruins' power play once again let them down. In Game 5 of a tied Cup Final on the road when you get three PP chances in the first period, you'd be better bury one of them. They couldn't do it and now they head back home facing elimination.
Boston had a fourth extra-man opportunity early in the second period, but they couldn't make much happen there, either. The Bs might be better off declining these penalties. When they can't take advantage, they lose energy and get out of their five-on-five rhythm.
I didn't think the Bruins got the same total team effort in Game 5. Brad Marchand
, Daniel Paille
and Milan Lucic
, for example, combined for no shots on Friday night. Those three players were much more of a factor in the last two games.
On the flip side, the Canucks' third line reappeared in Game 5. Between dives, Maxim Lapierre
– besides scoring the only goal – was much more of a shift-to-shift factor.
Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault
had his team refocused on home ice. They didn't allow nearly as much room for the Bruins and they didn't let them have those numerous easy entries into their zone. That was a big difference from the games in Boston.
I guess what comes around goes around. Late in the first period, Canucks RW Mason Raymond
turned the tables ducking under an attempted hit by Bruins LW Brad Marchand
along the boards near the benches. As a result, Marchand went crashing head-over-blades to the ice. He was shaken, but not injured.
The play was very similar to one that Marchand made against an on-rushing Henrik Sedin
behind the Canucks net in Game 4. Sedin ended up taking the same kind of tumble.