Published November 20, 2014
VANCOUVER -- Had the Canucks needed a power-play goal to win Game 5, maybe this story would have a whole different tone to it.
Then again, had their penalty kill not been the story early Friday night, maybe we would be preparing to write their obituary instead of talking about how for the first time in franchise history they have two cracks to win the Stanley Cup.
Roberto Luongo made Maxim Lapierre's goal stand up Friday in a 1-0 victory that put Vancouver on the brink of the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. But to make it happen in Game 6 Monday, the Canucks will need another strong performance from their special teams.
At least now they feel good about both areas of their special teams. That was not the case after Game 4.
The Canucks penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4 on Friday, limiting the Bruins to just seven shots. Their power play was 0-for-3 and is just 1-for-25 in the series, but the Canucks felt so good about how they moved the puck to generate chances and momentum that Ryan Kesler went as far as saying, "the floodgates are going to open here pretty soon."
Monday would be as good a time as any.
The Canucks clearly need something to go right in Boston after just about everything went so wrong in Games 3 and 4, leading to a pair of losses by a 12-1 margin, defeats that created a great deal of tension in the city of Vancouver that was finally swept away when the final buzzer sounded Friday night.
They believe it'll be their power play that comes to save the day and win them the Stanley Cup. It's a power play that has produced just one goal in the Final but was better in Game 5 after going 0-for-14 and giving up two shorthanded goals in Boston.
"Our power play was better at moving the puck, getting shots," Henrik Sedin said of the unit that indeed did move the puck well but still managed only five shots over three power plays in Game 5. "We need to get to some rebounds, though. They are collapsing hard and we're having a tough time getting to those rebounds. But, if we keep doing the things we did, I'm confident we're going to score."
Vancouver's penalty kill gained some confidence in Game 4 by going 4-for-4. As Kevin Bieksa said, it was one of the only things that did go right for the Canucks over their two forgettable games in Boston.
The Bruins' subpar power play came to life with a goal in Game 2 and two more in Game 3, but Vancouver's penalty kill has been far superior since. Boston coach Claude Julien even made a dramatic switch in Game 5, putting little-used fourth-liner Gregory Campbell on the power play in the first period.
Campbell received only 4:28 of power play time through the first 22 games of the playoffs. He got 2:17 in the first period Friday.
"He's done a pretty good job in front of the net and he certainly is good at tipping and screening, but I don't think we were capable of doing much with him in front because we weren't getting the set that we wanted to get," Julien said. "Had we managed to get control of the puck and move it around and create some shots, he would have been a valuable player up front there."
The Canucks wouldn't let him be. They wouldn't let any of Boston's power players do much Friday.
Patrice Bergeron had the best chances, first off a deflection of Dennis Seidenberg's point shot and then off the rebound from the slot. Luongo knocked both of them away and the Bruins never sniffed another good chance on the power play.
"I thought we did a good job of keeping them to the outside and limiting their second chances," Kesler said. "When they did get a second whack at it Lu was there to stand tall."
"I can't remember a whole lot of great looks that they got," added Bieksa.
The penalty kill has to be great again in Game 6. Maybe the power play will have to score, too.
The Canucks at least feel good about both now.
"We're close, we're close," Daniel Sedin said of the power play. "(Friday) we didn't need one, but we're going to come up big."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl