BOSTON — The Boston Bruins put Roberto Luongo and the Stanley Cup back on the shelf.
After another home scoring spree against Vancouver’s wildly inconsistent goalie Monday night, the Bruins are making one last trip west for the big finish to these dramatic Stanley Cup finals.
Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference scored in the first 8:35 to chase Luongo from his second straight game in Boston, and the Bruins emphatically evened the finals with a 5-2 victory in Game 6, sending the series to a decisive Game 7 in Vancouver on Wednesday night.
For the sixth time in the last 10 seasons, the finals have been stretched to their limit. The home team hasn’t lost in this series, with Vancouver winning three one-goal games and Boston posting three blowout victories.
“I’m proud of the guys,” said Mark Recchi, who had three assists. “We had our backs to the wall, we’ve been resilient all year, and we came out and had a great first period and did what we had to do tonight, and it comes down to Game 7. It’s one game now.”
League MVP Henrik Sedin scored his first point of the finals with a late power-play goal for the Canucks, who flopped in their first attempt to win their franchise’s first championship. Maxim Lapierre also scored in the third period for the Canucks, who will get one last try at a Rogers Arena filled with worried Vancouverites hoping their maddening team can come through.
Tim Thomas made 36 saves for the Bruins, giving up two third-period goals while burnishing his credentials for the Conn Smythe Trophy as Boston moved one win away from its first championship since 1972.
“He’s been in his zone through the whole playoffs,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “You can barely count on one hand the bad goals he’s given up in the whole playoffs. We all know that teams that have won the Stanley Cup have had unbelievable goaltending. We feel like we’ve got that.”
Thomas has given up just eight goals in six games in a virtuoso performance in the finals — but the spotlight in Game 6 was trained squarely on the other net.
After Luongo led Vancouver to the brink of a title with a stellar performance in a 1-0 victory Friday, the Canucks hoped to celebrate in Boston. The Bruins canceled that Garden party with yet another stunning barrage of goals against Luongo, who was ventilated for 15 goals in just over 4½ periods in Boston.
“You can’t hang your head and feel sorry for yourself,” Luongo said. “That’s the worst thing I could do. … I had a good feeling all day. Before the series started, I said I enjoyed playing in this building. Just got to move on right now. Got to believe in myself, right?”
Boston even set a finals record with four goals in 4:14 while chasing Luongo and welcoming his backup, Cory Schneider, with a quick goal from Michael Ryder.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault wasted no time confirming Luongo will start Game 7 in Vancouver, where he already has two shutouts in the series.
“I don’t have to say anything to him,” Vigneault said. “He’s a profesional. His preparation is beyond reproach, and he’s going to be ready for Game 7. … It happened. There’s nothing we can do about it. We’ve already turned the page on that, and we’re going back home.”
The Bruins are one win away from their Original Six franchise’s first championship since 1972. Boston has lost its last five trips to the finals since, never even reaching a seventh game — but the Bruins can hang another banner in the Garden rafters with one road win.