Of course it was Alex Burrows.
Of course it’s Burrows, not suspended after biting Patrice Bergeron‘s finger in a scrap, who’s there to score two goals, including a game-winner in overtime, lifting the Canucks to a 3-2 win and a 2-0 series lead, deflating the Bruins in their first Stanley Cup final in 21 years.
The killer, of course, is how Burrows scored in overtime. Eleven seconds in, Burrows worked around the net, beating Zdeno Chara and catching Tim Thomas off balance and out of the net, having tried to stop him on his first attempt on the right side of the goal, and just pushed it in for the game winner.
What’s disheartening about it is that, until that moment, the Bruins had played a pretty even, disciplined game that even saw them net a power play goal, Mark Recchi‘s 59th in his playoff career, and once again hung with the NHL’s best team until the dying moments.
But what was old was new again. Bergeron won the opening faceoff against Henrik Sedin, but a costly turnover in the neutral zone by Andrew Ference put the horrifying reality in motion.
The Bruins have been winning their battles in the corner, as usual, but not always in the neutral zone, and the Canucks keep closing late. It’s the kind of thing that typically separates contenders from champions.
Thomas, Bruins suffer another late letdown
For Thomas and the Bruins, there were shades of déjà vu in this overtime loss from a season ago, in Pittsburgh.
On Nov. 14, 2009, the Bruins blew a lead late, extremely late, to force overtime. Chara had given Boston a 5-4 lead late in the third period. But Pittsburgh, playing with the extra attacker, took advantage of a broken-stick turnover by Bergeron in the Pittsburgh offensive end, streaked into the Boston zone, and Evgeni Malkin fed old friend Bill Guerin for a goal with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
On to overtime, and around the 3:40 mark, Thomas went behind the net to play the puck, but in his efforts to get back into the goal, his skate seems to get caught in the goal apron, tripping him up for about two seconds. Of course, that was two seconds too long, and Pasqual Dupuis was there to tip the puck into an empty net.
And I feel like I’ve been here before. Feel like I’ve been here before.
Relive some old horror, if you like:
It’s one thing that the NHL infuriated many in not suspending Burrows for his bite of Bergeron in Game 1. It’s another that Maxim Lapierre, a longtime foe dating from his days with the Montreal Canadiens, can get away with openly mocking Bergeron.
In the third period after a scrum in front of the goal, Lapierre pointed and wagged his finger in front of Bergeron’s mouth, taunting the Bruins forward.
Honestly? Bergeron should’ve just bitten down and shut him up. In the final, you can get away with just about anything and not be suspended. The NHL has practically said as much.
Check it out: