After today’s latest installment of Bruins-Canucks craziness, which resulted in a 4-3 Vancouver win before 17,565 at TD Garden, there is only one chapter that can come next: another Stanley Cup Final showdown.
It would only be justice.
Recent history already included a bite, tire pumping, and finger waggles. Today, the enemies added an alleged stick to the throat, a pig pile, a legal line change that was considered otherwise, and a low-bridge clipping call that could result in a suspension for Brad Marchand.
‘‘Let’s not kid ourselves here. These are two teams that don’t like each other,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. ‘‘So what do you expect?
‘‘The buildup from last year is still there. It was only a 2-point game. That’s how we had to approach it. There’s a lot that happened in last year’s playoffs that carried over to today’s game. As much as referees tried to control it at times, it became a challenge.’’
The spark that set the game ablaze took place early in the first period. As Daniel Paille completed his shift and retreated to the bench, Canucks forward Alex Burrows — who bit Patrice Bergeron’s finger in last year’s playoffs — tapped the left wing on his foot with his stick.
Linemate Shawn Thornton spotted the exchange and slashed Burrows to let him know that he saw the infraction. According to Thornton, Burrows responded by jabbing his stick in his throat. Thornton blew his top and charged at Burrows. In turn, seemingly the entire province of British Columbia jumped Thornton in front of the Vancouver bench.
‘‘I’m a big boy. I can handle that,’’ Thornton said of the WWE-like pileup, capped by Maxim Lapierre’s off-the-turnbuckle leap. ‘‘I’m more upset by the spear to the throat.
‘‘I don’t lose my cool for no reason. I fancy myself a pretty honest player. But I’m not going to let somebody spear me in the throat. I’m also a man. I stand up for myself.’’
In the mayhem that followed at 3:54 — the main bout was Nathan Horton vs. Dale Weise in a long, punch-filled throwdown — Milan Lucic was tagged with a roughing minor and a game misconduct. Referees Don VanMassenhoven and Dan O’Rourke believed Lucic left the bench to join the scrap.
However, Lucic had replaced Paille, who had completed his shift. Lucic was not available for comment after the loss.
‘‘I’m not blaming them,’’ Julien said of the referees. ‘‘They’re in the middle of a scrum there.
‘‘Looch was on the ice already. It wasn’t an illegal change. He didn’t come off the bench. There’s no issues there. In my mind, it’s clear.
‘‘What’s unfortunate is that we lost a pretty good player early in the game. That’s more what’s disappointing. It’s a guy who was looking forward to playing this game. He’s from Vancouver. He gets tossed out and actually doesn’t do anything wrong.
‘‘We’ll let the league take care of that stuff. Nothing more we can do.’’
The Canucks had a five-on-three power play for two minutes because of the minors to Lucic and Thornton (roughing, slashing). The Bruins were six seconds away from killing the penalties, but after Chris Kelly blocked a Sami Salo shot, Ryan Kesler scored on the rebound at 5:41 to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.
It was the first of four power-play strikes for Vancouver. In the second period, with the Bruins holding a 2-1 lead (goals by Marchand and Rich Peverley), Tyler Seguin was nabbed for tripping at 14:47. Thirty-four seconds later, a Cody Hodgson shot deflected off Burrows and skimmed past Tim Thomas, making it a 2-2 game.
At 18:47, Marchand got the gate for clipping Salo. Marchand saw Salo approaching, crouched, and took out the defenseman’s knees. Salo went down hard and didn’t return.
Marchand, who returned today after missing Thursday’s win because of flu-like symptoms, could face supplemental discipline. If he is suspended, Benoit Pouliot would most likely replace him alongside Seguin and Bergeron. Zach Hamill, a healthy scratch today, would skate on the third line.
Julien didn’t criticize the call. He said he coaches his players to defend themselves against oncoming hits.
‘‘I always told my players they need to protect themselves,’’ Julien said. ‘‘The last thing I want my players to do is get hit and end up with a concussion. They have to protect themselves. Whether it’s the right way or the wrong way, it will depend on how the league looks at it.
‘‘I’d rather have a guy take a two-minute penalty than turn his back to the play, stand up straight, then get his face knocked through the glass and be out the rest of the year with a concussion. Or maybe end a career like [Marc] Savard.’’
The Canucks and their top-rated power play torched the Bruins twice during the five-minute major. At 19:47 of the second, Henrik Sedin redirected Alex Edler’s slap-pass past Thomas.
At 1:09 of the third, after racing down the right wing, Hodgson hammered a slap shot under the crossbar. Forty-two seconds later, David Krejci made it a 4-3 game by tucking the rebound of a Joe Corvo blast behind Cory Schneider.
But the damage was done. The Bruins had allowed too many man-advantage opportunities (11) to a skilled club that thrives on power-play action.
‘‘I don’t think we’re going to point the finger at the other team, because they didn’t do anything wrong,’’ Julien said. ‘‘They played the game the way they feel they have to play it.
‘‘They scored some power-play goals. They did the right things.
‘‘We didn’t do enough to win the hockey game. Let’s be man enough to admit it and move on.’’