VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Alexandre Burrows struck 11 seconds into overtime to lift the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday, moving them into a 2-0 series lead and halfway to their first Stanley Cup.
The best-of-seven NHL final series now shifts to Boston for games three and four on Monday and Wednesday with the Bruins needing a win at home to avoid a sweep.
Burrows settled the outcome of game two, swooping around behind the Boston goal and slipping the puck past Boston goaltender Tim Thomas into the gaping net for his second of the night sparking wild celebrations across the city.
”Going into overtime you know anything can happen,“ Burrows told reporters. ”He (Thomas) likes to challenge.
“I knew if I shot it he would stop it. Luckily I was able to get it in on the wrap-around.”
The warmest day of the year in Vancouver had brought out Canucks fans young and old, thousands pouring into the downtown core of the Pacific coast city packing bars and public squares for a night of partying reminiscent of last year’s 2010 Winter Olympics.
Already riding a wave of momentum from a game one win and swelled by the raucous towel waving crowd, the Canucks received another boost before the opening faceoff when fan favorite Manny Malhotra returned to the ice for the first time since sustaining what was thought to be a career ending eye injury.
Wearing a full-face shield to protect that eye that was smashed by a deflected puck on March 16, Malhotra made a dramatic entrance stepping out of the dark hallways onto the ice to an explosion of flashes and thundering chants of “Manny, Manny.”
But in the end the biggest cheers of the night belonged to Burrows, who figured in every Vancouver goal, scoring twice and setting up Daniel Sedin for the Canucks other tally.
”Anybody that follows our team knows he’s a really important part of our team,“ said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. ”He plays five-on-five, he plays power-play and he kills penalties.
“He’s overall one of our go-to guys. Again tonight he came up big in key moments.”
Burrows, who was accused of biting Patrice Bergeron’s finger in the series opener on Wednesday and had faced a possible suspension, showed his teeth in another way in game two, converting a powerplay chance midway through the first period to give Vancouver the early lead.
Just as it was starting to look as if the Bruins might never put a puck past Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo, Milan Lucic finally notched the Bruins first goal of the finals nine minutes into the second, banging home a rebound from close range.
The goal was the first surrendered by Luongo in 138 minutes, 54 seconds of playoff hockey after recording a shutout in game one.
Two minutes later Boston’s sputtering powerplay finally clicked, Mark Recchi tipping in Zdeno Chara’s shot from the point past Luongo to give the Bruins their first lead of the series.
Vancouver had the only goal of free-wheeling third period, Daniel Sedin slamming the puck into an open net for his ninth of the post-season to set the stage for overtime.
”It’s our own fault, we beat ourselves with bad puck management and decision making,“ lamented Bruins coach Claude Julien. ”We’re a better team than we’ve shown.
“We’ve got to go back home, regroup and get back to work. We didn’t come here to just roll over.”
Editing by Alastair Himmer