- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2011

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (AP) - Roberto Luongo made 26 saves while keeping the Bruins without a goal on six power plays, and the Vancouver CanucksStanley Cup finals opener against Boston was scoreless through two periods Wednesday night.

Tim Thomas stopped 20 shots while extending his shutout streak to more than 109 minutes, and Boston killed six Vancouver power plays in a tense, tight-checking game featuring stellar defense and bad-tempered play by both clubs.

Canucks forward Alex Burrows even appeared to bite the gloved finger of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron after the first-period buzzer.

Both teams entered their first playoff meeting looking to end lengthy Stanley Cup droughts. Vancouver has never won the NHL title in four decades of existence, losing its only two trips to the finals. Boston has lost five straight finals since winning in 1972.


The officials kept both teams on a steady parade to the penalty box in the first two periods, a big change from the Bruins’ penalty-free Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay _ yet neither team capitalized.

Boston failed to capitalize on every opportunity, even a two-man advantage for 1:32 early in the second period. The Bruins’ power play was mostly hideous in the Eastern Conference playoffs, managing just five goals in 61 chances.

The Canucks‘ power play has been among the NHL’s best all season, but high-scoring Vancouver twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin also couldn’t get the puck past the scrambling Thomas in the Canucks‘ first finals appearance since 1994.

Thomas shut out the Lightning in Game 7, and he was equally good in the finals opener, hustling for saves against the NHL’s highest-scoring team.

Luongo also started out strong in his attempt to win the Stanley Cup for the first time on the same ice where he backstopped Canada to the gold medal in last year’s Olympics.

After a full week off, the Canucks came out with palpable energy from a crowd that shook the arena violently enough to dislodge a bit of confetti left over from the Western Conference finals onto the ice before the game.

The Sedin twins’ line generated three decent scoring chances on the opening shift, but Thomas showed off the scrambling effectiveness that allowed him to lead the Bruins out of the East.

The Bruins got a four-minute power play 4:03 into the first period when Daniel Sedin caught 6-foot-9 Bruins captain Zdeno Chara with a very high stick. Chara skated to the bench to wipe blood off his face and returned immediately to the ice, taking his spot in the slot to block Luongo’s view _ but Luongo turned away all nine shots, denying Vancouver native Milan Lucic twice in the waning seconds.

Both teams engaged in a lengthy scrum after Thomas made a glove save to close the first period, shoving and exchanging shots. Bergeron complained to officials before skating off the ice, holding up his finger _ and television replays appeared to show Burrows biting down, possibly putting the Canucks‘ rambunctious first-line wing in danger of a suspension.

Burrows got a double minor from the exchange, and he committed a tripping penalty just eight seconds into what would have been a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage for the Canucks midway through the second period.

Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis skated off the ice in obvious pain during the second period after delivering a low hit on Lucic, who fell head over skates to the ice. Hamhuis, a shutdown defenseman enjoying a strong playoff run, had to crawl over the Vancouver bench to get to the locker room.

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