VANCOUVER – It was just one bad bounce too many for Boston Bruins netminder Tim Thomas.
Maxim Lapierre gave the Vancouver Canucks the only goal they’d need on Friday night by burying a puck that careered around Thomas’s net like a steel marble in a pinball machine.
Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa fired the puck off the end boards and it caromed to the Vancouver centre at the side of the goal. Lapierre then smacked in off Thomas’s body.
“There was a shot from the point, it went by, bounced out (in front),”said Thomas who lost 1-0 for the second time in three Stanley Cup final playoff games here.
“It bounced again. He whacked at it. I think if he’d shot it clean it would have given me a better chance.
“But it bounced off my stomach and I couldn’t get a handle on it.”
Thomas had fallen backwards as he tried to scramble to the other side of his net to face Lapierre.
The netminder with the unorthodox style did have some good fortune when he almost gave up the go-ahead goal in the second period.
He was out of position in when Tanner Glass, who hasn’t scored since Dec. 3, fanned on his shot.
The Canucks lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 after winning their sixth straight game on home ice.
They are on the cusp of clinching the first Stanley Cup in the 40-year history of the franchise when the series switches to Boston for Monday’s Game 6.
A seventh game, if necessary, will be played here Wednesday.
Boston coach Claude Julien also thought Lapierre’s second playoff goal was partly a gift from the hockey gods and some hard work by the Canucks.
“He was pretty wide,”Julien said of Bieksa’s point shot.
“Normally those pucks from where he shot it don’t normally come out there. But nonetheless, you make your own breaks.
“I think tonight as a whole, they were the better team. We have to again, acknowledge that, because if we don’t, we’re not going to be a better team next game.”
The so-far resilient blue-collar Bruins will face their third elimination game of the NHL post-season on Monday.
They have lost five straight final series since last winning the Cup in 1972.
The Bruins are seeking to be only the third team in playoff history to rebound from opening a seven-game final series with a pair of road losses. Thirty-two others have failed.
Boston entered Game 5 riding the crest of a huge momentum swing after outscoring the Canucks by a shocking 12-1 over the last two games in the TD Garden.
But the Canucks took away that momentum in the first period with bone-rattling bodychecks, three straight penalty kills and superb netminding by Roberto Luongo.
“I don’t know what it was,”said Boston winger Michael Ryder as the Bruins’failure to convert man-advantage situations haunted them again this post-season.
“They came at us hard on the (penalty kill) and the ice is not the greatest,”said Ryder who had a close-in chance in the second period but fired into Luongo’s chest.
“So when we don’t make a good pass they jump us. It’s all about us bearing down and making sure we do make a hard, crisp pass.”
The Bruins were 0-for-4 Friday and an tepid 3-for-21 for the series.
“Tonight was certainly not a good night for our power play,”said Julien.“It wasn’t a good night for our whole team, as far as creating good, quality scoring chances.”
The Bruins again failed to crash to Luongo’s doorstep and create havoc for the Canuck netminder who stopped 31 shots for his league-leading fourth shutout of this post-season.
“We need to be a little more aggressive in that area than we were tonight,”said Julien.“That’s so huge for a hockey club and we need that.”
Gregory Campbell moved from the fourth line to the front of the net to provide another new wrinkle on a power play that earlier had towering defenceman Zdeno Chara screening in front.
“Those are opportunities that you like to capitalize on but I think if we’re going to be honest with ourselves there’s no excuse,”Campbell said.
“Sure, we missed opportunities on the power play but we have to work harder.”
The Bruins have had their chances here as Vancouver edged them in the first two games at home by one-goal margins, one of which went to overtime.
Thomas expected another nail-biter when he skated out for the third period.
“I had a pretty good feeling going into the third period it was almost like overtime,”Thomas said.
“It was just pressure that I got scored on. I did everything I could not to get scored on.
“In my mind I was going to hold them off the scoreboard for as long as it took. It didn’t work out that way.”
NOTES: The Canucks have been outscored 60-56 so far in the playoffs … the only team to win the Stanley Cup after being outscored in the playoffs was the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs … Chris Tanev, the 21-year-old defenceman who replaced Keith Ballard on the Canuck blue-line, also played in the 3-1 regular-season loss to the Bruins.