Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Six

Game 7 on the way: Boston thumps Roberto Luongo, Vancouver 5-2 to tie series 3-3

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There wouldn’t be a shutout for Tim Thomas in this one, but it matters not as the Bruins beat down the Canucks 5-2 in Game 6 to force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night in Vancouver.

Tim Thomas carried the night for Boston stopping 35 shots and helping the Bruins along to a seventh game on the road that sees the pressure squarely on the shoulders of the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks closed out the game with a little bit of fight and got Henrik Sedin off the schneid scoring a power play goal early in the third period, his first point of the finals. That bit of good fortune wouldn’t last long as the Bruins would get some puck luck thanks to the post stopping a Jannik Hansen shot that would’ve made it 4-2.

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The Bruins would also get their second power play goal of the game thanks to a tap in from David Krejci. The power play marker saw Mark Recchi earn his third assist of the game and help the Bruins roll to victory. Maxim Lapierre would add a late goal to provide the difference maker at 5-2.

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For Boston, their emphatic first period sent the message that they were not here to mess around and wanted to get things taken care of early. Scoring four goals in the first period and chasing Roberto Luongo (five saves) will do that. While Cory Schneider would replace Luongo and play solidly in his stead, the Bruins merely had to play things out over the final 40 minutes. Vancouver would carry the play for the majority of the final 40 minutes but not nearly enough to spur the comeback they were looking for to try and avoid a Game 7.

Instead, they’ll have to regroup in a big way before Wednesday’s game in Vancouver. With Luongo coming up incredibly small again on the road, it’ll create doubt among many onlookers even in spite of Luongo’s incredible numbers at home in the playoffs. For Boston, they did their job to hold serve at home and force a Game 7, doing so in the way they did now shifts the pressure to Vancouver to once again protect home ice and to once again find a way to win with the pressure on. Enviable position for Boston? Perhaps it is.

Here are the highlights from Game 6:

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After the game, Mike Milbury spoke with Bruins goalie Tim Thomas:

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NBC’s Darren Pang spoke to Boston’s Milan Lucic during the post-game:

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Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final with a score of 5 to 2 during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with his teammates Sidney Crosby #87 after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Behnken/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.

Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

(Watch that goal in the video above.)

It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

Update: Here’s the goal Kessel accidentally “scored” for the Lightning:

Ouch.