VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Overtime kicked off with just what the Bruins wanted: a faceoff win for Patrice Bergeron against Henrik Sedin. Bergeron pulled the puck back to Andrew Ference. Then Bergeron and linemates Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi revved up their motors for the first rush of overtime.
The rush went the other way.
Alexander Edler picked off Ference’s bank off the boards to trigger the counterattack. Edler got the puck up to Daniel Sedin, who chipped it forward to Alex Burrows. Ference, who tried to cut off Sedin’s chip, was out of the picture. Only Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas, the Bruins’ two best players, were back.
Burrows beat both of them.
Burrows attacked the net to pull Thomas out of his crease. The Canucks’ No. 1 right wing then fought off Chara’s check as he peeled around the net. Then, with Thomas too far gone, Burrows tucked the puck into the empty net after only 11 seconds had ticked away.
And just like that, the Bruins had dropped a 3-2 decision at Rogers Arena and fallen into an 0-2 crevasse in the Stanley Cup Final.
“It [stinks] right now that we weren’t able to come out on top with a win here,’’ said Milan Lucic, who netted the Bruins’ first goal, in the second period. “We’ve just got to work that much harder in order to win.’’
For the first two games, the Bruins have gone toe-to-toe with the league’s best team on enemy ice. They have lost by just one goal in each setback.
But oh, do those goals hurt.
In Game 1, only 18.5 seconds remained in regulation when Raffi Torres slipped the only puck past Thomas. Last night, the Canucks delivered their second haymaker by making overtime last a mere 11 seconds.
This morning, when the Bruins board their charter flight home (wheels up at 8 local time), their mission will be simple: release and reload.
“We’ve been able to bounce back before,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “We’ve gone through the experience of being down two games to none against Montreal. That was probably worse because we lost them at home. Is it a better team here? Absolutely. The team that makes it to the Final is a better team. But it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve been through it. We didn’t come here just to roll over.’’
The Bruins did many things right last night. Their first line, after a quiet Game 1 and a yawn of a first period, came alive in the second. Lucic scored a goal on two shots. David Krejci was back to his puckhandling self, putting four shots on goal and getting multiple looks against Vancouver’s makeshift shutdown duo of Kevin Bieksa and Aaron Rome. The power play, a punch line the entire postseason, busted through when Recchi netted his first man-advantage goal since Jan. 10 to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
But for all the right things they did, the Bruins made critical mistakes. Ference has been one of the Bruins’ steadier and more reliable defensemen all season. However, he committed giveaways that led to two Vancouver goals.
In the first, Chara killed the Bruins’ momentum by taking an irresponsible interference penalty against Ryan Kesler. On the play, Kesler was driving into the offensive zone. Kesler didn’t have any support, but Chara earned a trip to the box by shoving the Canucks’ No. 2 center to the ice after the puck was gone.
The Bruins were 12 seconds from killing Chara’s penalty, but the Canucks struck first after Ference couldn’t get enough steam behind a clearing pass off the right wall. Sami Salo sealed off Ference’s attempt to start the cycle the other way.
“I tried to get it up off the glass,’’ Ference said. “Sometimes it comes off nice, sometimes it doesn’t.’’
Salo found Christopher Higgins. The ex-Canadien found Burrows at the left circle. Burrows slipped a shot on goal that dribbled under Thomas’s right arm on the short side at 12:12 for the game’s first goal.
The Bruins grabbed their first lead of the series at 11:35 of the second when Recchi scored his power-play goal. But the Bruins lost that lead at 9:37 of the third. Chara lost the puck deep in the left corner, which allowed the Canucks to set up in their offense. From the right point, Edler put a shot on goal that thudded off Burrows in front. Burrows spotted Daniel Sedin open to his right. Before Thomas could recover, Sedin had tied the game.
Then came overtime.
“We didn’t connect on that first pass,’’ Ference said. “The transition came back at us.’’
The three forwards, too far up ice, couldn’t recover in time to cut off the wraparound. Burrows took advantage. And now the Bruins must win four of the next five games.
Tough. Very tough.
“You’ve got to forget what just happened,’’ Julien said. “You’ve got to learn from what we did wrong, and we’ve got to correct those. We know that if we correct them, things will get a lot better for us. We’re taking the responsibility for this loss. It’s our own fault.’’