VANCOUVER - For long-suffering Canucks fans, the team's Game 1 victory against the Boston Bruins Wednesday night brings them closer to the Stanley Cup than they've been in a generation.
And while many of the jersey-draped fans that flooded downtown Vancouver after Raffi Torres' last-minute, game-winning goal were boldly declaring the cup was already theirs, some were still cautious—even a little nervous—about jinxing the team too early.
"A lot of people expect we're going to win, but the truth is, it was really close tonight, it could have gone either way," said Mark Hill, 40, who was at Rogers Arena for the game Wednesday night and then headed out to busy Granville Street to celebrate.
"I think we're the better team, but we've got to do work. Boston's not going to lay down and roll over."
The Canucks have only been in the final round of the playoffs twice before, but have never won the Stanley Cup.
The last time the Canucks made it this far was 1994, when the team lost to the New York Rangers. The time before that was in 1982, when they were defeated by the New York Islanders.
The Canucks play Game 2 in Vancouver on Saturday before heading to Boston next week.
Karen Tennant, a 26-year-old who watched the game at a large outdoor screen, said she's just happy the Canucks are in the final round, and she's not taking anything for granted.
"I feel like getting past that Chicago series was the most stressful, and after that, anything's a bonus," said Tennant.
"Obviously I want to win, I'd be devastated (if they lost), but I feel like just getting to the finals—it only happens every 17 years. It's a big accomplishment to get here."
But the bulk of fans partying into the night after the game were far less tentative—or at least, if they were nervous about the Canuck's chances, they weren't showing it.
Chants of "We Want the Cup!" echoed for blocks as fans carried makeshift Stanley Cups over their heads, eagerly shouting at anyone in earshot that the Canucks were headed for victory.
Jim Parry, 60, and his 58-year-old wife Lynn were among the calmer fans milling about on Granville Street, but their confidence was just as high.
"Right now, the way everything's going, we're going to win the cup," said Jim Parry.
"After Game 7 (against the Chicago Blackhawks), I think Vancouver thought they already won the Stanley Cup. They got past the team they had to get past, it just gave them more confidence."
The city is setting up two giant outdoor screens in downtown Vancouver during each game to let fans watch outside, and there are similar venues open in other cities in the Lower Mainland. Both of the downtown locations were full Wednesday evening, each holding thousands of fans.
For the away games in Boston, Rogers Arena will be broadcasting the games inside.
And each night, the post-game street parties are expected to keep getting larger.
Vancouver police are blocking off several streets to traffic for the games and bringing in extra officers to keep the crowds under control. The final round is expected to cost the force roughly half a million dollars.
On Wednesday, the police said the crowds were mostly well-behaved.
By 10:30 p.m., officers had poured out liquor about three dozen times, issue five tickets, taken one person to the drunk tank and dealt with a couple of fights.