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.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL.
The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season.
It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents.
“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”
Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari.
“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”
That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo.
*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other.
*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week.
*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda.
*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out.
*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL.
*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.