Raffi Torres was the Toast of the Town in Vancouver on Wednesday night.
Torres found the back of the net with just 18.5 seconds to play in the third period to give the Vancouver Canucks a 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
"I just had to get open," said Torres. "I was fortunate to get in the back of the net."
Torres took a nice pass from Jannick Hansen and redirected past Tim Thomas into the back of the net as the fans at Rogers Arena in Vancouver erupted.
Ryan Kesler who has been outstanding for the Canucks all playoffs also drew an assist on the goal after stopping the puck at the blue line and feeding the puck over to Hansen.
Torres' third goal of the playoffs came at a perfect time for the Canucks as overtime seemed almost certain with so little time left.
"It's obviously exciting to score with 18 seconds left but saying that we've done a good job of forgetting about the past and moving on to the next game," Kesler said. "We know the next game's going to be even bigger."
Both Thomas and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo looked unbeatable for most of the game but in the end it was Luongo who came away with the shutout.
"I thought we were going to play all night the way it was going," said Luongo. "It was an exciting way to start the series. It was such a close game. It could've gone either way, a flip of the coin."
Game 2 of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final will be played Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
The Canucks carried the play for much of the third period and had multiple scoring chances as they outshot the Bruins 14-10 in the frame.
Everytime the Canucks would get an opportunity it seemed Thomas had the answer though. Thomas stoned Hansen on a breakaway early in the third and later made an even better stop on Maxim Lapierre.
"He played unbelievable. You can't say much more about Tim," Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk said. "We need him to play like that."
Thomas also had some luck on his side in the third as an Alex Edler wrist shot beat him clean but rang off the crossbar. Thomas finished the night with 33 saves but in the end it was one too few.
Luongo looked equally as good for Vancouver stopping all 36 shots he faced to open a series with a shutout for the third time this playoffs.
"You've got two of the best goaltenders in the league," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said. "Obviously scoring is going to be a challenge for both teams."
Luongo had to be particularly sharp in the first period as Boston piled up 17 shots in the opening frame. Nine of those shots came on an early Daniel Sedin four minute double-minor for high-sticking.
Sedin then took the game's first penalty when he clipped Boston's Zdeno Chara with a high-stick. Neither team was able to generate much rhythm 5-on-5 after that in the first 40 minutes as the penalties just kept on coming.
The first two periods featured a combined 14 penalties for 28 minutes, and 12 power plays.
"We knew this was the way they were going to play," Henrik Sedin said after the game. "We're going to have to battle for every inch we get. I thought we did a good job tonight. If we play them 5-on-5 I think we have a better chance."
Both the Canucks and Bruins went 0-for-6 on the power play in the game.
Boston has now converted on just 7.5 per cent of their power plays in the playoffs. Besides failing to convert on the early four minute advantage the Bruins could also not find the net on a 1:33 5-on-3 power play early in the second.
For the Canucks it was the first time these playoffs they have failed to score a power play goal with six or more chances.
Vancouver defenceman Dan Hamhuis left the ice in obvious pain during the second period after delivering a hit on Boston's Milan Lucic. Hamhuis, had to crawl over to the Vancouver bench to get to the locker room and did not return.
The first period also ended in a scrum with Boston's Patrice Bergeron exchanging shoves with Alex Burrows behind the Bruins' net. Replays showed Burrows biting Bergeron's glove after Bergeron pushed his hand into Burrows' face.
"Oh yeah, he did. He cut me a little bit on my finger," Bergeron said. "But I'm not going to be here complaining about it. I'll let the league do their job, but he sure did."
"When two teams don't know each other that well, then they're facing each other ... obviously the build-up to this final, there's going to be some strong emotions out there," said Bruins' coach Claude Julien. "Both teams obviously reacted to that."
For Canucks fans this game marked the end of a 17-year wait for the team to get back to the Final. The Canucks fell to the Mark Messier led New York Rangers in a thrilling seven game series back in 1994.
The Canucks also fell short of the ultimate prize in 1982, losing to the New York Islanders in their only other Stanley Cup Final appearance.
While the Canucks last played for a Stanley Cup in 1994, it has been an even longer wait for Bruins fans. Boston made its last appearance in the Final way back in 1990. That season they lost in five games to the Edmonton Oilers who also happened to be led by Messier.
Boston's last Stanley Cup win was in 1972 with Bobby Orr.
Notes: This is the first time the two teams have met in the playoffs... The Bruins won the only meeting between the clubs this season… The team winning Game 1 of the Final has gone on to win the Stanley Cup 77.5 per cent of the time. When the home team wins Game 1 they have gone on to win the Cup 86.3 per cent... Manny Malhotra was not in the lineup for the Canucks.