VANCOUVER – Known for his fiery demeanour during previous NHL stops, John Tortorella’s anger hasn’t bubbled to the surface much since he took over as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
It showed up on Saturday night and helped spur his team to victory.
Tortorella lit into the Canucks with an emotional tirade during a second-period timeout after they gave up the lead and Vancouver responded in kind by blowing the doors off the Boston Bruins in a 6-2 victory.
“That was 10 out of 10,” said Canucks forward David Booth, who restored Vancouver’s lead just 1:20 later. “He was fired up there and it got the guys going. We’re professionals. Sometimes you don’t need it and sometimes you do.
“That was a turning point for us and changed the outcome of the game.”
Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist and Roberto Luongo made 39 saves as Vancouver won its seventh straight to finish a five-game homestand with a perfect record.
“We weren’t playing well,” said Tortorella, before adding it was “none of your business” when asked what he said during the timeout.
Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins, Yannik Weber and Christopher Tanev had the other goals for Vancouver (20-10-5), which is 8-1-1 in its last 10.
Daniel Sedin, Mike Santorelli and Brad Richardson added two assists each as the Canucks thumped the Bruins in their first visit to Rogers Arena since Boston’s victory in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final.
Reilly Smith had both goals for the Bruins (22-9-2), who saw their four-game winning streak snapped.
A shaky Tuukka Rask allowed four goals on 23 shots for Boston, which has been hit hard by injuries and had a flu bug go through their locker-room this week. Chad Johnson replaced Rask after the Canucks’ fourth goal, making four stops in relief.
“I’m not going to make any excuses. I was pretty bad today,” said Rask. “I thought we played a good game as a team. I wasn’t able to help too much.”
The turning point came at 4:11 of the second period when Tortorella called his timeout after Smith tied the score 1-1.
The Bruins were all over the Canucks before the goal and Tortorella unleashed a verbal barrage reminiscent of his previous coaching stints with the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.
Whatever he said worked.
Booth restored the Canucks’ lead just shortly after with his fourth goal of the season, firing a shot from the left wing that went through Rask to send the usually subdued Rogers Arena crowd into a frenzy.
“I think you see how passionate he gets,” said Canucks forward Ryan Kesler of his coach. “You see how not pleased he was with our play and I think that passion bleeds into this team. It was a wake-up call and guys respect him.”
The Canucks’ second line of Higgins, Santorelli and Kesler has been a force during Vancouver’s current winning streak and went back to work to stretch the lead to 3-1 at 8:46.
Santorelli made a strong move to the net, forcing Rask to make two big saves. His third shot went off the post and fell right to Higgins, who fired into a yawning cage for his 10th of the campaign.
“(Boston is) one of the best teams in the East, and I consider us one of the best teams in the West. Both teams played hard,” said Tortorella. “Those are the type of games you want to be in. We didn’t have to say anything before the game as far as the emotion. I knew the team was going to be ready.”
Luongo, who picked up the 65th shutout of his career in Friday’s 4-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, made a big blocker save early in the third on a deflection by Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron before Weber put the game out of reach and ended Rask’s night when he blasted a one timer past for his first of the season at 1:34.
Vancouver’s special teams then took over with Henrik Sedin scoring on the power play for his ninth at 4:02. Tanev then added his third, a short-handed effort, at 10:34 to make it 6-1.
Smith rounded out the scoring with 3:17 left, banging a rebound past Luongo.
“They had quite a push at the start of the second, they tied it up, Torts calls a timeout and we respond right away,” said Luongo. “It shows a lot of character from our guys.”
The Canucks, who were coming off back-to-back shutouts, have allowed just eight goals during their seven-game winning streak.
“The final score was much different from the way our team played,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “They just kind of took it over in the third with the score, but the first two periods I didn’t mind our game.”
Bruins pest Brad Marchand drew the ire of the Canucks when he mocked the Canucks’ bench by pretending to kiss a ring on his finger and lifting an imaginary Stanley Cup in the third period.
“It shows what kind of guy he is,” said Henrik Sedin. “He is a great player, it’s too bad he is acting like he does but that is the way it is.”
Julien said he didn’t see the exchange, but added that the team expects better of Marchand.
“Sometimes his emotions get the better of him,” said Julien. “We work with him and we are going to continue to work with him.”
The Bruins got word earlier in the day that tough guy Shawn Thornton had been suspended 15 games for his attack on Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7.
Both the Canucks and Bruins downplayed Saturday’s rematch of the 2011 Cup final, but the energy in the stands and on the ice was palpable throughout the night.
Hansen opened the scoring at 16:37 of the first period with his fifth of the season on a harmless-looking shot from centre that deflected off the stick of Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara and knuckled its way past a surprised Rask.
Boston had a great chance to tie the game moments later with Milan Lucic staring Luongo down in front, but the Canucks goalie made a big save to keep the momentum on Vancouver’s side.
“I thought we did a lot of good things tonight,” said Tortorella. “(But) we still have a ways to go to learn how to play in those type of games.”
Notes: Smith now has nine goals on the season. … Higgins has three goals and five assists in his last seven games and has points in five straight contests. … The Canucks defeated the Bruins 4-3 in Boston on Jan. 7, 2012, in the only other meeting between the two teams since their final. Cory Schneider started in goal for Vancouver in that one. … Boston hosts Vancouver on Feb. 4. … The Canucks open a three-game road trip on Tuesday in Minnesota against the Wild. Vancouver then visits the Dallas Stars on Thursday and the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. … Boston is home to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.