Burrows, Torres draw first blood against Bruins in Canucks’ 1-0 win
ADAM L. JAHNS AT THE STANLEY CUP FINALS June 2, 2011 12:26AM
Raffi Torres beats Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for the only goal of the game late in the third period. | Harry How~Getty Images
CANUCKS vs. BRUINS
Canucks lead series 1-0
G1: Canucks 1, Bruins 0
G2: Saturday at Canucks
G3: Monday at Bruins
G4: Wednesday at Bruins
G5*: June 10 at Canucks
G6*: June 13 at Bruins
G7*: June 15 at Canucks
All at 7 p.m. on Ch. 5, except Games 3 and 4 on Versus
Updated: July 8, 2011 2:41PM
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It didn’t take long for the Vancouver Canucks to bother the Boston Bruins. It took only 20 minutes into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals for them to burrow their way under their skin.
Leave it to winger Alex Burrows — the infamous pest who once pulled defenseman Duncan Keith’s hair in a fight — to be the reason. Burrows bit center Patrice Bergeron’s finger in a scuffle when the first period expired behind the Bruins’ goal.
Consider it setting the stage for an eventful opening game full of player-flipping hits, near-fights, penalties and some extracurricular rough stuff that, were it not the finals, would have resulted in even more penalties.
That tenacity should continue to boil, too, as this series progresses and after the Canucks pulled out a dramatic 1-0 victory Wednesday at Rogers Arena. Agitator Raffi Torres scored the game-winner with 18.5 seconds left as Vancouver took the series lead with Game 2 on Saturday.
“He cut me a little bit on my finger,” Bergeron said of Burrows’ bite. “I’m not going to be here and complain about it. I’ll let the league do [its] job. . . . [Burrows’] explanation was that he said I put my finger in his mouth, and he had to do it.
“I don’t mind the rough play and the little scrums at the end, as long as it’s just pushing and shoving and all that. But biting? Come on.”
The bite and other sideshows, which included Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis flipping Bruins bruiser Milan Lucic with a hip check — consequently hurting himself — in the second period, partially overshadowed the standout performances by Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo in goal.
The Vezina Trophy finalists starred throughout, whether it was Thomas (33 saves) stopping an early flurry by the Canucks and later robbing Burrows (deflection), Maxim Lapierre (twice) and Jannik Hansen (breakaway) in the third or Luongo (36 saves) blanking the Bruins on an early four-minute power play.
A handful of posts were hit on both sides, but all the squandered power plays for both teams stick out, especially for the Bruins. They had 92 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play moments into the second — which included the four minutes for roughing Burrows received for biting Bergeron — but failed to convert.
Goaltending had a lot to do with it.
“We’ve got two of the best goaltenders in the league battling it out,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “Scoring is going to be a challenge for both teams.”
Still, this was the Bruins’ game to steal against the favored Canucks. They know they’re considered the underdogs.
“Well, it really doesn’t matter what people see us as, where we’re put,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “At this stage, somebody’s got to be a favorite, somebody’s got to be an underdog. For us, it really doesn’t matter. We’re not playing that card right now. We’re just playing the card that we’re here, and we’re here to win.”
Thomas will need some help from his teammates to do that. Some offensive bite, especially on the power play, will go a long way.
“We’re not out there to say, ‘Oh, we played a good game and battled,’ ’’ Thomas said. “We’re out there to win.”
NOTES: NHL chief disciplinarian Colin Campbell, whose son Gregory plays for the Bruins, stepped down from his post, which he has held since 1998, on Wednesday. Brendan Shanahan, a former star winger, will now be in charge of disciplining players and will lead a new committee for player safety.
Shanahan was named the NHL’s vice president of hockey and business development in 2009. Campbell, who had come under fire multiple times for his rulings and also a leaked e-mail exchange, will continue to work for the league.
◆ The Hawks, with a handful of restricted free agents due raises for next season, received some good news when deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the media before Game 1 that the salary cap for next season could be as high as $63.5 million.
◆ Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league, which now includes a team in Winnipeg, won’t realign its divisions until the 2012-13 season. Winnipeg will take the Atlanta Thrashers’ spot in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference next season before moving to the West the following year.