By Allan Dowd
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Violence erupted on the streets of Vancouver on Wednesday after the Canucks were beaten by the Boston Bruins in the final of the NHL's Stanley Cup.
Riot police fired tear gas to control a mob after cars were overturned and set ablaze following the Bruins's 4-0 win over the home team in the deciding Game Seven.
Television showed stores in the downtown area being looted and hockey fans hurling bottles at police and smashing windows in a repeat of ugly scenes that followed Vancouver's loss to the New York Rangers in the seventh game of the 1994 finals.
"It is extremely disappointing to see the situation in downtown Vancouver turn violent after tonight's Stanley Cup game. Vancouver is a world-class city and it is embarrassing and shameful to see the type of violence and disorder we've seen tonight," Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement.
"The vast majority of people who were in the downtown tonight were there to enjoy the game in a peaceful and respectful manner.
"It is unfortunate that a small number of people intent on criminal activity have turned pockets of the downtown into areas involving destruction of property and confrontations with police."
Boos rang out inside the packed stadium when NHL commissioner Gary Bettmann presented the trophy to Boston's Slovakian captain Zdeno Chara after Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand had each scored twice and goaltender Tim Thomas won the most valuable player award after his second shutout of the finals.
The Bruins, one of hockey's "Original Six" teams, had not won the sport's most coveted prize since 1972 and defied the odds to win it this time in one of the most enthralling finals series in years.
Three of their four playoff rounds went the full distance of seven games and they came from 2-0 behind in the finals to beat the Canucks, who were favorites to win after finishing the regular season with the NHL's best record.
"I think it was great the way our team just looked at the small picture," said Boston coach Claude Julien.
"Every game, all we talked about was going out there and earning it. It wasn't ours to have, it was ours to earn."
The Canucks had home advantage for the finals and although they won their first three games in Vancouver, they lost all three in Boston before Wednesday's decider on home ice.
For Vancouver, the loss ended their dream of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time, just over a year after the city hosted the Winter Olympics.
"We battled real hard. I know we gave it our best shot, but in this one game, they were the better team. It's that simple."
Bergeron scored the only goal of the first period then added a shorthanded goal at the end of the second to stretch Boston's lead to 3-0. Rookie Marchand also scored in the second frame and capped the scoring into an empty net in the final period.
But it was Thomas who played the biggest role for the Bruins.
A late bloomer who spent years in the minor leagues and in Europe before finally making it to the NHL at age 28, he proved almost impenetrable throughout the finals, setting a record for the most saves.
In the final game, he saved all 37 shots that were fired at him with a calming look of composure that belied what he was really feeling.
"I was scared. I won't lie. I had nerves yesterday and today," he said.
"I faked it as well as I could, and I faked my way all the way to the Stanley Cup."
(Additional reporting Steve Keating and Nicole Mordant)
(Editing by Julian Linden and Greg Stutchbury)