There was simply no way the Bruins were going to lose Game 3. Watching Tim Thomas lead the B’s onto the ice, you could see it on his face as much as you could hear it from the crowd: Boston was going to win.
You could feel the energy in the Garden through the TV. After two heartbreaking losses, it just seemed like destiny. Alex Burrows somehow dodged a suspension for his infamous bite in game 1, only to score a pair of goals (including the mind-boggling OT winner) in game 2. It simply wasn’t right. Heading into game 3, Bostonians felt like if any sort of God or Karma or Truth or Justice existed in the world, we were going to win this game.
But as much as Bruins fans felt confident at the outset, no one could have predicted the absolute destruction that was to follow.
For awhile, it was anybody’s game. The teams were evenly matched in the early minutes. And then, the moment of terror. Nathan Horton slid the puck to Milan Lucic in the neutral zone. Lucic corralled the pass, and Horton continued strait ahead, watching his teammate to stay with the flow of the play. After a full second (if not two) Vancouver Defenseman Aaron Rome stepped up and delivered a vicious, irresponsible blindside hit to the head of Horton. After the impact, Horton lay on the ice with emptiness in his eyes. The Garden fell silent.
And then, the Bruins settled the score.
The first period finished all even at 0-0. But the rest of the game was all Boston. The addition of enforcer Shawn Thorton in the lineup was felt throughout the game, as the B’s manhandled the Canucks all over the ice. You could tell the Bruins had had enough. Vancouver could play dirty all they want, taunt us in game 2, and think they could get away with it. But the B’s responded in a way that echoed Herb Brooks in the movie Miracle: “Not… Tonight.”
Burrows spent about half the game looking over his shoulder and the other half on the ice. Lucic dropped him to the floor behind the net and stole him in the face with a quick left hook. Mark Recchi stuck his finger right in Maxim Lapierre’s face, using the Canucks’ classless taunt from game 2 against them. Much like the Canucks in every phase of last night’s game, Lapierre had no answer. He kept his mouth shut. Milan Lucic took it one step further, stretching his gloveless fingers toward the mouth of the infamous Burrows. At the point the B’s were up 4-0. And they never looked back.
At this point you may be wondering, “So hey, what about the goals?” To be honest, there were so many I lost track. Boston lit the lamp 8 times, including an electrifying shorthanded solo effort by Brad Marchand to put the Bruins up 3-0 in the second. Wily Veteran Mark Recchi notched 2 goals. Andrew Ferrence was credited with one on a shot from the point (that may have been deflected) after Vancouver Defenseman Alex Edler’s stick broke; giving Boston the puck for a shorthanded score in what could only be viewed as fate after the injustices of the first 2 1/3 games of the series.
Meanwhile, Timmy Thomas played one of the best games of his career, racking up 40 saves while allowing only one meaningless goal in the third. ESPN’s Barry Melrose credited Thomas with the play of the game: Henrik Sedin was charging toward the net, the puck floating up in the air. Sedin reached up to grab the puck at the top of the crease, only to get absolutely leveled by Thomas. It was simply that kind of night.
While the score line read 8-1 (the second biggest blowout in Cup Finals history) the story of this game was physical play. The Bruins were fed up. They demolished the Canucks in Boston, striking fear into the hearts of the visitors. The notorious “Green Men” from Vancouver were lost in the crowd, petrified by the presence of Boston on the ice and by the raucous crowd in the TD Garden. The Bruins may be down 2-1, but the momentum seems to have swung. If Boston comes out with this much intensity in game 4, there may be a new favorite in this series soon enough.
Nathan Horton spent the night in the hospital, while Aaron Rome faces a disciplinary hearing with the league at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday. While we all pray for Horton’s health, early reports he will likely miss the rest of the finals with a concussion. The Bruins clearly did not let the dirty hit go unpunished in game 3. Let’s hope game 4 on Wednesday night is no different.