One lapse. One breakdown.
But in an instant, a valiant road effort from goalie Tim Thomas(notes) was wasted. In an instant, the Vancouver Canucks took a 1-0 series lead with a 1-0 Game 1 win on Wednesday night, courtesy of Raffi Torres(notes):
The breakdown began with 23.2 seconds left, as a long bank pass by Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa(notes) — who knows his way around a friendly bounce at Rogers Arena — was tipped by Ryan Kesler(notes) past Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk(notes) and into the offensive zone.
"Great second-effort play from him on that goal. That's what we expect from him," said coach Alain Vigneault of Kesler.
Was it offside? There were questions about Kesler and the blue line after the game. Boston coach Claude Julien hadn't seen the play before his postgame press conference, but said, "Even if it was or wasn't, it wouldn't change the outcome right now."
Hansen drew defenseman Zdeno Chara(notes) away from the crease. giving Raffi Torres room to go to the net. Tim Thomas, whose aggressive play had been a primary reason the Bruins played Vancouver to the tie, was overaggressive on this one: Committing to Hansen as the shooter, and leaving Torres to deflect the puck into a gaping net for his third of the playoffs at 19:41.
"He made a great play to get [the puck] over, and it was fortunate enough to get it in the back of the net," said Torres.
This was a brutal game, in every sense of the label. There were a combined 61 hits between the teams, as the teams traded solid hits in every period. But it was also a sloppy, icing-filled ugly game that Thomas (33 saves) and Roberto Luongo(notes) (36 saves) kept scoreless through some timely saves and sheer will.
(Luongo was the Canucks' best penalty killer, as the Bruins went 0 for 5 with the man advantage.)
In other words, it was the kind of game the Bruins wanted to play: Getting a great effort from Thomas, playing the Canucks even on special teams, keeping the Sedins in check with a momentous effort from Zdeno Chara. It was all setting up exactly as the Bruins needed it to.
It was the kind of game they needed to win to capture the Stanley Cup; the kind of game that underscores how much the Bruins' pathetic power play hinders them in these close games.
But in an instant, it was Vancouver moving to within three wins of the Chalice.