Bite incident in Canucks' rear-view mirror after Burrows' OT heroics
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Naturally, this is what it would take to get them talking about something else. Alexandre Burrows knew it; his father even reminded him this week. If everyone had to talk about his son, Rodney Burrows would prefer it have nothing to do with that now-infamous (though according to the NHL, still inconclusive) bite on Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.
"My dad listens to everything, and he told me to score some goals," Burrows said after Game 2 at Rogers Arena on Saturday. "I listened to his advice tonight, and it worked out."
Indeed, one goal wouldn't be enough. Though Burrows had opened the scoring 12:12 into the game, punching in a shot through Boston goalie Tim Thomas on the power play, he'd still have another. As the game moved into overtime with the score knotted at 2-2, Burrows saw another opportunity, another moment to show that he is more than a pest or a punk on the ice.
Taking advantage of a Bruin turnover in the neutral zone, he skated hard to the net and faked a shot. After Bruins goalie Tim Thomas bit, so to speak, the winger flew around behind the net and slipped the puck into the goal, a feat all the more impressive considering he outreached 6-foot-9 Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara to do it. And just like that, a mere 11 seconds into the extra frame, the 30-year-old winger gave the Canucks the 3-2 win, and a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals.
"Some players just have a knack [for the big goals]," Vancouver center Ryan Kesler said. "He's one of them. He's scored huge goals for this organization."
Burrows may have been the hero, but the sentimental star was undoubtedly center Manny Malhotra, who returned to the Vancouver lineup for the first time since March, when he took a puck to the eye. Many wondered if the 31-year-old forward would ever play again, much less this season.
When he stepped onto the ice for warmups for Game 2, the arena spotlight followed his every stride. The man who has been the Canucks' biggest cheerleader behind closed doors heard the roars of the 18,860 at Rogers Arena, heard them chant his name in feverish excitement. As he skated to center ice to take a faceoff just 1:48 into the game, he couldn't help but feel a bit nervous. He won the draw cleanly, his first of six wins in the circles.
"It was a sensory overload, just the noise, the crowd, all the towels waving," he said. "It was the first time I've seen a home crowd that excited in the playoffs. ... To hear them cheering, to hear that ovation, it makes you feel like a Canuck. It makes you feel like part of this family."
In limited ice time -- just 7:26 -- his contribution to the team wasn't necessarily the kind that jumps out on the score sheet. But for his teammates, however, who have leaned on the 12-year veteran even in his absence on the ice, his return was an even more amazing comeback than the one they pulled off Saturday. Still, down a goal in the third period, the Canucks were determined not to lose their fight.
"We've always had really strong second halves in games," Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo said. "It shows this team's strength and mentality. We have the kind of mentality of never giving up."
For the second game in a row, the Canucks' game only strengthened as the night went on, and at 9:37, Hart Trophy finalist Daniel Sedin, the Canucks' leading scorer during the regular season, took a quick pass from Burrows in the slot and tied the game with an easy wrister. Using their speed to create odd-man rushes and generate more traffic in front of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, Vancouver outshot Boston 11-5 in the third period, overtaking the momentum the Bruins had gained from a solid second period, in which they scored twice, and putting them on their heels.
"As far as I'm concerned, we're taking responsibilities for this loss," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "It's our own fault, but we're a better team than that, and we're a team that's bounced back all through the season. ... We've been through it. We didn't come here just to roll over. We're going to go back home, regroup and bounce back."
In particular, they will have to address their neutral-zone play, especially their decision-making and puck management, Julien said. The turnovers in the middle of the ice, like the one committed by defenseman Andrew Ference on the game-winner, are the kind of errors that a team with speed like Vancouver can and will capitalize upon.
"We know that they thrive on it," Julien said. "Yet we kept turning pucks over in the neutral zone. We have to be better in those areas."
With just a day to regroup, the Bruins will have to take whatever positives they can muster from another dramatic defeat. Their power play, which has struggled mightily all postseason, was able to beat Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo once they moved Chara from the front of the crease back to the point. He flung a shot toward the net, which forward Mark Recchi was able to tip as he streaked across the slot. It was the 43-year-old winger's first goal since Game 1 of the Bruins second-round series against Philadelphia, and just the sixth power-play goal the team has scored in these playoffs.
One goal may not silence the critics of Boston's power play, but as Burrows' father said, success can get them talking about something else.