When you go 110 minutes and 42 seconds without a goal, and fire 60 shots on net, sometimes you need a little ingenuity to beat a goalie like Tim Thomas.
Vancouver Canucks cunning defenceman Kevin Bieksa certainly exhibited his creativity to help his team score an important 1-0 victory over Thomas and the Boston Bruins to take a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final on Friday. Game 6 is back at the TD Garden on Monday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET).
The puck came back to Bieksa at the Boston blue-line. He glanced up and saw too many players between him and Thomas, so he banked a shot off the end boards that caromed to teammate Maxim Lapierre in front. Before Thomas could scramble to the other side of his crease, Lapierre deposited the game winner 4:35 into the third period.
The goal sent the capacity crowd of 18,860, as well as an estimated 100,000 more in the downtown core, into a frenzy because the Canucks are one victory away from their first Stanley Cup championship in the club's 40-season history, and the first NHL title by a Canadian team since the 1992-93 Montreal Canadiens.
Lapierre thought it was luck that the puck ended up on his stick, but Bieksa relayed a different version of the play.
"I was hoping it would bounce out somewhere in front of the net," Bieksa said. "You never know exactly where it's going to go. Obviously, I'm not a geometry major. But I was trying to bounce the puck off the end boards."
The Canucks now have only six goals in the series. The record for the fewest goals in a six-game Stanley Cup final is nine, held by the 1999 Buffalo Sabres in a losing cause, and matched by the 2000 Dallas Stars who also lost the final.
"When you have a team that blocks a lot of shots you have to try different things," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said.
Earlier in the series, Bruins coach Claude Julien didn't like when Lapierre stuck his finger inches away from Boston's Patrice Bergeron, taunting him to take a bite like Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows did on Bergeron's gloved index finger in the series opener. Julien remarked, "[Lapierre] not only gets on his opponents' nerves, but his teammates, too. That's why he's been with three teams this year."
Well, Lapierre, a trade deadline day acquisition, was one of the more popular players in the Canucks' dressing room. He was flying all night, but didn't make any friends with the Bruins in the first period when he feigned an injury after Boston defenceman Zdeno Chara got his stick around Lapierre's mid-section.
Lapierre ignored a question afterwards as to whether he was wounded. But he did state that he was fortunate to be in the right spot.
"We got lucky, a good bounce," he said. "I was in the right spot at the right time."
So was Canucks fourth-line forward Tanner Glass midway through the second period, when rookie defenceman Chris Tanev found Glass at the side of the net with a wide-open goal staring at him. But Glass flubbed his shot to keep the game goal-less.
Tanev played a strong game as he was dressed instead of Keith Ballard, who endured plenty of struggles in Game 4.
"He's so cool and calm he could have played with a cigarette in his mouth," Bieksa remarked.
Luongo earned his fourth shutout of the playoff run and second 1-0 win in the series with his 31-save performance.
The Canucks penalty killers also enjoyed a strong game. They were shutdown on three power-play opportunities in the first period and again early in the second period when Ryan Kesler was called for a questionable goaltender interference infraction after it appeared he was steered into Thomas by Chara.
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault was proud of the way his players kept their composure after the early penalties. The team was known for whining too much in past seasons right from training camp last fall, but Vigneault cajoled his players to cease and dismiss their chirping ways.
In fact, Daniel Sedin went to complain to the referee after the Kesler call and his brother Henrik pushed his twin brother out of the way.
"We're a tight-knit group in here," Kesler said, in explaining how the Canucks bounced back after two dreadful games in Boston. "We're a family and we have each other's backs."