VANCOUVER — The Bruins might have the ring — as Brad Marchand pointed out by kissing his ring finger (and miming kissing the Cup) on Vancouver ice Saturday night – but the Canucks got the game. It was Marchand at his most chirpy and annoying, but that was about all the Bruins could claim in this one.
The game featured two fights for Jarome Iginla and quite a bit of nastiness on both sides. Despite the Bruins and Canucks attempting to downplay their rivalry before the game, it was clear the two teams don’t like each other.
In the end, the Bruins weren’t up to the challenge on the tail end of an exhausting and emotional week. The Canucks won their seventh straight behind new coach John Tortorella.
For the Bruins, the week began with the debacle against the Penguins — a game that cost them Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly, and Shawn Thornton — and continued through Toronto and western Canada as the injuries piled up (Dougie Hamilton, Daniel Paille). And that’s not counting the stomach bug that struck the team.
The Bruins clearly were not at their best Saturday. That includes Tuukka Rask, who allowed the first four goals in a 6-2 loss before being removed at 1:34 of the third period. Rask — who didn’t start against Calgary Tuesday because of illness – let in a shot by Yannick Weber and was replaced by Chad Johnson. It was the first time since February of 2012 he has been pulled because of his performance.
“I think the final score was probably much different from the way I felt our team played,’’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We had some good chances and I think when it’s all said and done we’ll probably realize the scoring chances were pretty even or close to being even. They capitalized on their chances and we didn’t. I think that was the tale of the game tonight.”
The Canucks struck first on a goal stranger than the one scored by Dennis Seidenberg in Edmonton Thursday night. Jannik Hansen was barely past the Canucks logo at center ice, with Zdeno Chara in front of him, when he launched a shot at Rask. The Bruins goaltender appeared to be fooled by the knuckling puck, which deflected off Chara’s stick and dipped by Rask at 16:37 of the first period.
The Bruins got the equalizer on a great play by Reilly Smith. He blocked a dump-in attempt by the Canucks’ Dan Hamhuis and was able to control the puck for a breakaway. He slipped a backhander past Roberto Luongo at 4:11 of the second period. He finished the play by taking out the Canucks goalie.
Smith had been sent back to the hotel where the team is staying during morning skate because of flu-like symptoms that have plagued the team all week. It was his eighth of the season. He added another late in the third to cap the scoring.
“If I would have known that, I would have had everybody sick tonight,’’ Julien said Smith, who has four goals in the past five games. We could have had a few more goals, right?”
David Booth put the Canucks back up by a goal, though, ripping one past Rask at 5:31 of the second period on a play that was mishandled by defenseman Torey Krug.
The Canucks added another at 8:46 of the second. Rask made a couple of nice saves on Mike Santorelli, but couldn’t control the puck. Chris Higgins found it after a scramble around the net and sent it past Rask to give Vancouver a 3-1 lead.
It was a tough night for Krug. By the time the Higgins’s goal crossed the line, he was minus-3. The Bruins eventually paired him with Chara.
Just 6:24 into the game, it appeared the Bruins were dealt another blow — perhaps a major one. Iginla, who has three goals in the last three games, dropped the gloves with Ryan Kesler. Both players were assessed major penalties and Kesler skated to the penalty box.
The winger went to the dressing room. Pictures circulated with Iginla’s finger appearing bent in an unnatural way, but he returned for the start of the second period. He didn’t miss a shift for the rest of the period.
“He injured that finger, but again that’s the kind of toughness that Iggy has, as far as that’s concerned, he wasn’t going to be denied the opportunity to come back and he made that decision on the team to be OK,” Julien said.