The Vancouver Canucks are one win away from turning their quest for the Stanley Cup into reality after a 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 on Friday night.
Maxim Lapierre scored the winning goal in the third period and Roberto Luongo made 31 saves for the shutout to help the Canucks take a 3-2 series lead.
Game 6 will be played Monday night in Boston.
Lapierre beat Boston netminder Tim Thomas just under five minutes into the third period for the first and only goal of the game. The crowd at Rogers Arena in Vancouver erupted as Lapierre found the back of the net after a shot from Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa rebounded off the back boards onto his stick.
Lapierre couldn't contain his excitement either and began dancing on his skates.
"I had so many thoughts in my head, I just began jumping," Lapierre said after the game.
His second goal of the playoffs broke a 110 minute, 42 second shutout streak for Thomas that dated back to Game 3.
Now the Canucks have to refocus and get ready for a battle in Game 6.
"We know it's going to be the biggest game of our life, the next one," said Lapierre. "Boston is going to come really hard. We are going to have to be ready for the challenge."
The Canucks won the first two games of the series but it was Boston who had all of the momentum coming into Game 5. The Bruins leveled the series at 2-2 after outscoring the Canucks 12-1 in Boston.
After giving up eight goals in Game 3 and then getting pulled after another four in Game 4, Luongo looked unbeatable on Friday, outdueling Thomas for his fourth shutout of the playoffs.
"It's not the first time it's happened," said Luongo. "I know what I need to do to get ready and have my A game.
"I thought we all played well and we all stepped up our level of play to take it to a new level we needed to win this game. We do whatever it takes. That's what we need to do to win."
The Canucks netminder looked sharp from the get-go, making a great reaction stop on Milan Lucic on a Boston power-play in the first period. From there, he just continued to make saves, earning his second shutout of the Final.
Luongo also got plenty of help from his defenceman who blocked shots all night and were efficient in clearing away loose pucks in front of him. The Canucks netminder also had a bit of luck on his side early in the first period as Boston's Chris Kelly hit the crossbar over his shoulder.
"We didn't make Luongo work hard enough for the win," said Thomas. "I don't think we tested him enough. We didn't get the same type of chances that we were getting in Games 3 and 4."
Thomas made 24 stops in the loss. The Canucks have only beaten Thomas six times in the five games this series but now sit just one win away from the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup victory.
The Bruins will now look to regroup at home and force a Game 7, which would be back in Vancouver next Wednesday.
"We've been through this how many times?" asked Bruins head coach Claude Julien following the game. "We've had to regroup all year, we've never done things the easy way. The goal is to create another Game 7."
The Canucks came out looking to set a physical tone in Game 5 but were on the penalty-kill for a good portion of the first period after taking three penalties in the first 20 minutes.
The Canucks handed the Bruins their fourth straight power play early in the second period but their penalty-kill led by Luongo held firm.
By failing to capitalize with the man advantage in Game 5, the Bruins are now just 1-for-12 on the power play in Vancouver during the series.
"We didn't get anything for free," said Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin following the win. "We stayed focused throughout the game. We had to battle through penalty kills and a lot of different things. We stuck with it and I'm really proud of this team."
The Canucks power-play also continued to struggle against the Bruins. Vancouver had three opportunities with the man advantage in the game but was unable to capitalize.
The Canucks are on the verge of a Stanley Cup title in their first return to the championship series since 1994. The Bruins, meanwhile, have won five Stanley Cups, but none since 1972. They are 0-5 in the Finals since then, the last loss coming to Edmonton in 1990.
Notes: The team scoring first in the series is 4-0… The team winning Games 1-2 at home and losing Games 3-4 on the road has a series record of 8-2 in the Stanley Cup Final and a Game 5 record of 10-0.