Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas unsuccessfully tries to poke the puck from… (Rich Lam / Getty Images )
Reporting from Vancouver, Canada
History is firmly on the side of the Vancouver Canucks, who completed a sweep of the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals when Alexandre Burrows scored 11 seconds into overtime to give them a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins.
Home teams that won the first two games of the finals have won the Cup 32 of 34 times, a .941 winning percentage. The exceptions were the 1970-71 Chicago Blackhawks, who won the first two games at home but lost to Montreal in seven games, and the 2008-09 Detroit Red Wings, who won the first two games at home but lost to Pittsburgh in seven games.
Clearly, the Bruins face prohibitive odds — and a potential emotional letdown after giving up decisive goals with 18.5 seconds left in Game 1 and 11 seconds into overtime of Game 2. But Coach Claude Julien said his team will rely on some history of its own: its ability to rally.
"We've been through a lot this year. We're resilient. I don't think that's what's going to drag us down," Julien said. "We've been able to bounce back before. We've gone through the experience of being down, 2-0, against Montreal, probably even worse because we lost to them at home. …
"We didn't come here just to roll over. We're definitely going to go back home and regroup and bounce back."
Manny Malhotra returns
The return of Vancouver center Manny Malhotra, who suffered a serious injury to his left eye March 16 when he was struck by a deflected puck, was happily welcomed by fans and his teammates.
Malhotra was accorded a standing ovation when he stepped onto the ice at Rogers Arena to take a faceoff 1 minute 48 seconds into the game, and the sight of his face on the scoreboard with a sign that read, "Welcome Back Manny" generated more roars.
The popular center, a faceoff specialist and defensive stalwart, said after the morning skate that he wasn't sure if he would play. And he wasn't lying.
"It wasn't until after lunch that I knew I was going to go," said Malhotra, who wore a full face shield. "At that point, the thought going through my head was I was excited I was going to have the chance to play, but probably the most nervous I've been in my entire career. …
"I guess I really didn't settle down until after my first shift. It was obviously a great feeling, the ovation I got for my first shift. I think it kind of put a little bit more nerves on me, wanting to do something out there, execute. Once I got out there I felt a little bit better, started to skate."
He played 7:26, but his presence loomed larger.
"It was huge," teammate Henrik Sedin said of Malhotra's return. "Especially on faceoffs. He won six of seven and won some big ones on the penalty killing."
Mark Recchi scores one for the aged
Boston forward Mark Recchi became the oldest player in the history of the Stanley Cup finals to score a goal when he redirected a shot by Zdeno Chara past Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo on Saturday, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
Recchi was 43 years 123 days old. The distinction previously belonged to Igor Larionov, who was 41 years 189 days when he scored for Detroit against Carolina in Game 4 of the 2002 Cup finals. The oldest player to score a playoff goal was Gordie Howe, who had recently turned 52 when he scored the 78th and final playoff goal of his career for the Hartford Whalers in 1980.
Recchi wasn't in a celebratory mood after his first goal since the opener of the Bruins' second-round series against the Flyers. Instead, he scolded reporters who had questioned his lack of production.
"I'm not worried about my critics, I worry about my teammates," he said. "Critics, they're not in the dressing room every day. They don't know what I bring to the table every day."
He suggested they kiss his derriere, though he didn't use that word.
By contrast, his coach was classy when asked about the NHL's decision not to suspend Burrows for biting the finger of Patrice Bergeron in Game 1. That decision kept Burrows in the lineup Saturday to score two goals and assist on the other.
"I never thought about that, that way. They made a decision. We moved on," Julien said. "For us, if we start using that as an excuse, we're a lame team. To me, it's not even a consideration."