VANCOUVER – Despite Roberto Luongo's assertion to the contrary, there was nothing simple about stopping Maxim Lapierre's winning shot in the third period of Vancouver's 1-0 victory in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena.
Lapierre banked a shot off Tim Thomas before the Boston goalie could slide over to cover the opposite post at 4:35 of the third period to give Vancouver the only goal it needed to move within one win of the franchise's first Stanley Cup.
After the game, Luongo pinned the fault for the goal on an overaggressive Thomas.
"It's not hard if you're playing in the paint," Luongo said after his 31-save performance and second 1-0 shutout of the Final. "It's an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out and aggressive like he does, that's going to happen. He might make some saves that I won't, but in a case like that, we want to take advantage of a bounce like that and make sure we're in a good position to bury those."
That's easier said than done, however, and a number of things had to fall into place for Lapierre's goal to come to fruition.
"It's a normal hockey play," Thomas said. "You don't know which way (the puck) is going to go. One of their guys could have stepped out and picked it up because it wasn't that hard of a shot. But I did have to find it through traffic, which probably delayed me the extra one-tenth of a second to get over there. It could have bounced three different ways and that is just the way it did."
Raffi Torres, who had the game-winning goal in Game 1, started the play by passing to defenseman Kevin Bieksa at the point to the left of Thomas. Bieksa was not immediately pressured and had some precious time to make some decisions.
Immediately, he remembered Thomas has been super-aggressive in cutting down shooting angles throughout the series. Once Bieksa spotted Thomas out of the paint again, he decided to try to burn Thomas in much the same way Alex Burrows did on his overtime game-winner -- a wraparound shot in Game 2.
"Obviously 'Burr' scored the big goal in Game 2 in overtime against him, a pump fake and going around," Bieksa said. "He's coming out far so the only way to make him pay is to put pucks off the boards and hope they bounce into the slot.
"I'm trying just to put it off the wall and hope it got a bounce. Obviously (I'm) not a geometry whiz, so I'm not sure exactly where, but I was hoping it would bounce somewhere in front of the net. It bounced to our stick."
Bieksa's shot missed wide-left and banked perfectly, finding Lapierre standing unguarded to the right of Thomas.
That's when both sides agree luck took over a bit -- Lapierre somehow was able to settle the puck and whack it toward the goal in one motion.
"We got lucky, (a) good bounce," Lapierre said. "It was challenging there for us, right spot at the right time."
Thomas says the main reason the puck beat him – the only one of 25 shots to elude him just 48 hours after he registered a shutout in Game 4 – was because Lapierre shanked it.
"I think if he would have shot it clean, it would have gave me a better chance," Thomas said. "The way it was, it bounced off my stomach and was a couple inches over the line before I could get a handle on it."
For the Canucks, though, it was divine justice after all the times Thomas has robbed them in the first five games of this series.
"He's a good goalie," Bieksa said. "You have to find ways to cheat and get little advantages. That was one of them."