The Boston Bruins started slowly on home ice in Game Six, but once they got going, they quickly overwhelmed the Vancouver Canucks and built a comfortable lead that they rode to a 5-2 win, forcing a Game Seven back in Vancouver.
Vancouver controlled play for much of the first five minutes, but then Boston reeled off four goals in 4:14 to break the game open.
The first three goals, on eight shots, resulted in Roberto Luongo getting pulled, thus ending a miserable stretch in Boston for the Canucks goaltender. In 112:51 in three games in Boston, Luongo surrendered 15 goals, giving him a goals against average of 8.04, with a save percentage of .773 (stopping 51-of-66).
Boston recorded 19 shots in the first period, on their way to 40 shots on goal, the most that Vancouver surrendered in a regulation game in this year's playoffs.
In a shocking development, Bruins defenceman Tomas Kaberle tied for the team lead with four shots on goal, only the second time in this postseason that he registered more than two shots on goal.
For a player that has been widely regarded as a disappointment in the playoffs Kaberle, who added two assists in Game Six, now ranks third among defencemen in this year's playoffs with 11 points.
Bruins veteran winger Mark Recchi led the way with three assists, while playing a playoff-low 12:03
Tim Thomas stopped 36 of 38 shots in the Bruins' goal, running his record to 10-0 in this year's playoffs when he has at least 34 saves. It was the sixth time in the last seven games that Thomas has allowed two goals or fewer.
For Vancouver, there may be some moral victory to be gained by the Sedin Twins getting on the scoreboard. Henrik Sedin scored a power play goal 22 seconds into the third period -- his first point of the series -- and Daniel Sedin set up both Canucks goals, giving him four points in the series.
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa led the Canucks with eight shots on goal, tying his career-high for shots on goal in a game, set in December, 2006. Alex Edler, who had ten hits in Game Five, led the Canucks with six more hits in Game Six.
Boston enforcer Shawn Thornton had seven hits, to lead all skaters, while getting 10:08 of ice time, his highest total in the playoffs. Johnny Boychuk added six hits for the Bruins and was involved in an incident on the first shift of the game that led to Canucks winger Mason Raymond leaving the game, injured, after 20 seconds of action.
Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg, the leader in ice time in this year's playoffs, played 19:27, missing some time after suffering what appeared to be a lower-body injury on the play that turned into the Canucks' first goal, but he returned to the lineup after some time in the dressing room.
Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron played 14:28, his second-lowest total of the postseason, but also accumulated eight penalty minutes, a career-high.
Crossing the continent again, the Bruins have to hope they can transfer even a little of their home dominance to the road. They have managed two goals in three games at Vancouver in this series and have dropped five straight road games, going back to Game Four at Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Final.
While Vancouver gets the home ice advantage that their first-place finish earned, they're also a banged-up team. If initial indications are correct, the Canucks could be without left winger Mason Raymond, and they're already missing right winger Mikael Samuelsson and defenceman Dan Hamhuis due to injuries, along with defenceman Aaron Rome due to suspension.
In a series that has been so dominated by home teams, the Canucks have to be confident in their own arena, but that confidence could easily get shaken if Vancouver doesn't get Roberto Luongo's best game.
Game Seven will be an opportunity for someone to take on the role of hero, making the play that makes the difference and wins their team the Stanley Cup. Should be worth watching, don't ya think?
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.