No team ever won three Game 7's and won the Stanley Cup.
The Boston Bruins just broke that streak.
The Bruins won their third Game 7 of the postseason, defeating the Vancouver Canucks, 4-0, to win the Stanley Cup Championship. It's their first championship since 1972 and the sixth in team history.
Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe Award as the playoff's most valuable player. The Bruins goalie set a record for saves in a postseason, and stopped 228 of 236 shots. He's come full circle from last season, where he found himself supplanted by Tukka Raask.
He's just the second American to win the Conn Smythe. Brian Leetch was the first after the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994.
Boston's offense struggled on the road, scoring just two goals in three games. Roberto Luongo, vilified for his terrible road play, stopped 93 of 95 shots. He twice shut out the Bruins, in Games 1 and 5.
But in this final game, the Vezina trophy winner failed to replicate those prior performances.
Patrice Bergeron, the hero of Game 4, opened the scoring at 14:37 of the first period. Brad Marchand held the puck along the side boards, shaking a Canucks defenseman. He passed the puck to the slot, where Bergeron slapped it past Luongo for his fifth goal of the postseason.
The Bruins, 11-1 when leading after one period, put the game away in the second period.
Marchand put himself in the goal column at 12:13 of the middle period. He skated a loose puck behind the net and wrapped his shot around the post. Luongo lunged back and put his stick on the puck, but failed to control it. The puck slid over the goal line for the rookie's 10th goal of the postseason.
Bergeron's second goal, at 17:35 of the period, iced the Canucks. With Zdeno Chara in the box, Bergeron pounced on a loose puck that caromed off the side boards. He raced past Christian Erhoff and Alexander Edler and into the offensive zone. Erhoff hooked him, sending both players tumbling to the ice and into Luongo. The puck went into the net, and video replay confirmed the goal.
Marchand added an empty-netter in the third period, stretching the lead to 4-0. It gave the rookie four points, more than any other skater.
After blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers during last year's Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Bruins admitted they had "unfinished business." But they fell behind the Montreal Canadiens, 2-0, during the first round of this year's playoffs. They defeated their rivals in seven games, meeting the Flyers in the second round. They exorcised their demons, beating them in five games. It took seven games for Boston to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning and move onto the finals.
Mark Recchi, a two-time Cup winner, said he'd probably retire if Boston won the Cup tonight. The 43-year old served as the team's elder statesman, doling out hits and keeping younger players in check throughout the series.
Luongo and the Canucks led the league in points and several offensive and defensive categories. But they struggled as a unit, and their goalie symbolized their inconsistent play. Luongo was pulled - and benched - against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs. He found his game in the next two series, but regressed during the finals.
His offense provided little help. The Canucks eight goals in seven games was the worst offensive performance by a team in the Cup finals since 1945, when both the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs scored nine goals. Henrik and Daniel Sedin, the lethal twin combination, combined for a minus-4 rating in Game 7. Ryan Kessler never found his offensive groove either.
Heading back to Vancouver, the chips seemed stacked against the Bruins. But Thomas' magic - and a few lucky bounces - brought the Cup back to Boston.
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