VANCOUVER – An unproductive power play continues to haunt the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But you’d never know it listening to a team that lost 1-0 Wednesday in the dying seconds when they had a chance to bury the Vancouver Canucks with the man advantage.
“We actually did some pretty good things on the power play,” said goalie Tim Thomas, whose club had a two-man advantage for one minute 32 seconds at the start of the second period.
“People are getting tired of hearing me say that but we did. We did a lot of good things, just not enough good things to get the goals that we needed.”
The Bruins went 0-for-6 on the power play in the opening game of the Cup final and are a woeful 5-for-67 in the playoffs.
They even started the game with a four-minute power play when Canuck Daniel Sedin drew a double minor for high-sticking 4:03 after the puck dropped, and had a 5-on-3 early in the second period.
The closest they came to scoring was when Mark Recchi grazed the outside of the post from a sharp angle on the 5-on-3.
“I think our power play was better tonight than we have been in a while,” said Boston coach Claude Julien. “We had some chances (but) we didn’t score.”
He sent towering defenceman Zdeno Chara to the top of goaltender Roberto Luongo’s crease to block his view and look for tip-ins.
That strategy, something the Bruins tried in their Game 6 loss to Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final, didn’t work either.
But Julien and his players were also quick to point out that the Bruins also frustrated the Canucks with their penalty kill.
Vancouver, which entered the series 17-for-60 with the man advantage, also couldn’t convert six opportunities.
“Obviously when your power play isn’t doing well they’re going to criticize us when we didn’t score but I think the same thing happened on the other side,” Julien said.
“As long as we’re able to stay on even terms with them on special teams we’re OK with that.”
The Bruins were looking to play this series five-on-five but Raffi Torres was the only Canuck to beat Thomas, and that goal came at even strength.
Ryan Kesler won a puck battle along the boards, passed to Jannik Hansen who found Torres streaking to the net.
Thomas didn’t have a chance.
“When it went over to (Hansen) he was skating down the slot and he got himself into a position where I was starting to respect the shot so I was starting to cut down the angle,” Thomas said.
“He was able to pass it over to the guy cutting to the net. I didn’t even know he was there.”
Rugged winger Milan Lucic said Thomas deserved better.
“We need to reward him for his efforts,” said Lucic, who led the Bruins in scoring during the regular season with career-highs 30 goals and 62 points. “That’s the bottom line.”
Centre David Krejci, who leads the playoffs with 10 goals and had a team-high five shots on Luongo, said Boston shooters had good looks before letting the puck go.
“But we’re 0-0 (on power-play goals),” Krejci said. “They didn’t score goals and we had a little better chance on the power play.
“Hopefully we can break in in the next game otherwise you’re at a point, getting frustrated, you’re getting really pissed off but you’ve got to battle through it.”
Game 2 goes Saturday before the best-of-seven series shifts to Boston for games Monday and Wednesday.
Julien said the Canucks, who allowed 17 Boston shots in the first period, began to take over the game in the third.
“Obviously in the third we seemed to lack some energy and lost our legs and they just seemed to come at us pretty hard,” Julien said
“I thought we played a real good road game. To be in the situation we were after two periods I didn’t mind it, especially against this hockey club.”
Krejci said the Bruins still feel pretty good about themselves despite losing in the last minute.
“It looked like it was going to go into overtime,” Krejci said.
“The pressure was on them. We were playing strong defensively and we were hoping we were going to get some lucky break. They get the break 19 seconds to go … it’s a tough one but there’s still lots of hockey left.”
NOTES: Canuck Chris Higgins played his 12th playoff game against the Bruins, most of any Canuck … the previous 11 came as a Montreal Canadien … Boston’s Mark Recchi played his 183rd playoff game, most of any participants in the Cup final … the Bruins are the last Original Six club to face the Canucks in a playoff series.