VANCOUVER The Bruins were 18.5 seconds away from an overtime period with the Canucks when their chances of stealing Game 1 vanished.
Ryan Kesler beat Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the puck at the blue line and fed a pass across ice to Jannik Hansen. Hansen fed Raffi Torres streaking to the net, and Torres put an unstoppable shot past Tim Thomas -- who had to come out and protect the shooting angle against Hansen -- to give the Canucks a 1-0 victory Wednesday night.
Thomas made 33 saves, several of them spectacular, in a mano-a-mano battle with Canucks goalie Robert Luongo.
Both netminders were dazzling. In the third period, Luongo made a great concentration stop on Michael Ryder swooping in front the left wing on one end. Moments later, Thomas stoned Maxim Lapierre on a breakaway at the other end.
The statements were set early for both goalies as the Bruins and Canucks both had six power plays in the first two periods of play, and each team enjoyed plenty of scoring chances in the back-and-forth action. The game itself had little flow due to the penalties, but a couple of things were clear: The Canucks were more physical than their reputation that had preceded them, and the Bruins were a bit faster on their skates than perhaps Vancouver had anticipated.
The intensity and Stanley Cup Final frenzy spilled over multiple times on the ice with thunderous hits and hate-filled scrums between the two teams. That new-found vitriol was punctuated by a skirmish between Alexandre Burrows and Patrice Bergeron at the end of the first period that ended with Bostons even-tempered center losing his cool.
Replays of the incident at the end of the first period revealed that Burrows bit into Bergerons gloved right hand and his index finger, and it appeared that No. 37 showed the referees his bloodied finger after the two combatants were separated.