Tim Thomas, Nathan Horton

How the Bruins, Canucks performed in previous Game 7’s in the 2011 playoffs

Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals is uncharted territory for these editions of the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. It’s actually the first time the Bruins franchise has ever been in a Game 7 in the championship round while the Canucks hope to be more successful than the 1994 edition was against the New York Rangers.

That being said, both teams have already experienced Game 7 matches in earlier rounds of the 2011 playoffs, so it’s not like they’ll feel totally out of place on Wednesday night. Let’s take a look at how each team played in their Game 7 contests.

April 26, 2011 – Canucks beat Blackhawks 2-1 (OT)

Goal scorers: Jonathan Toews scored for Chicago; Alex Burrows scored both of Vancouver’s tallies.

Roberto Luongo’s performance: 31 out of 32 saves made.

Summary: Luongo came into this Game 7 with about as much pressure as a goalie could endure in a first round series. He responded brilliantly, making huge stop after huge stop although Toews beat him on what could have been a heart-breaking shorthanded goal in the waning moments of regulation. Burrows scored the early goal and then nearly became the goat by taking a penalty in overtime. He redeemed himself by scoring the game-winning goal by exploiting a Chris Campoli turnover.

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April 27, 2011 – Boston beats Montreal 4-3 (OT)

Goal scorers: Yannick Weber, Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban for Montreal; Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Chris Kelly and Nathan Horton for Boston.

Tim Thomas’ performance: Thomas stopped 34 out of 37 shots against the Habs.

Summary: The Bruins’ special teams flopped almost comically in this game, allowing two Montreal power play goals and a disturbing shorthanded tally by Plekanec. Boston made their bones through most of this year’s playoffs by playing great in 5-on-5 situations and this Game 7 was no exception. They stormed off to an early 2-0 lead before stumbling a bit, but didn’t allow stomach punching moments to derail their hard work. Thomas made 31 out of 31 saves and Boston out-scored Montreal 4-0 in even strength situations, including Horton’s bombastic overtime game-winner.

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May 27, 2011 – Bruins beat Lightning 1-0

Goal scorer: Nathan Horton for Boston

Tim Thomas’ performance: Thomas made 24 out of 24 saves for a shutout.

Summary: As phenomenal as Dwayne Roloson was (making 37 out of 38 saves), the Bruins finally played the suffocating defensive style that they rarely maintained against Tampa Bay for most of the series. Thomas earned his shutout while Horton scored the game’s only goal on a tip-in after being exonerated of water bottle-throwing charges (although he did face a $2,500 slap on the wrist fine for the infraction).

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As you can see, both goalies have had a great Game 7 performance already in these playoffs. There’s evidence that Luongo can bounce back from embarrassing moments but there is also proof that Thomas can close out an opponent even amid in-game setbacks. Each team won those games at home, though, so the Bruins will have to break that trend by winning Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals on the road (and become one of the few in NHL history to do so in the process).

Canucks spoil Ducks’ home opener via shootout

Adam Cracknell, Ryan Miller
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks have already found a groove just three games into the regular season. The Anaheim Ducks are still looking for a way to get their offense going.

Radim Vrbata and Alex Burrows scored in the shootout, and the Canucks spoiled Anaheim’s home opener with a 2-1 victory Monday night.

Miller made 28 saves and Adam Cracknell scored in regulation for Vancouver, which beat the Ducks for just the third time in their last 12 meetings.

Vancouver improved to 2-0 on the road in the young season, with Miller yielding just one goal in each game. That’s encouraging to the veteran, who played in only four games after Feb. 22 last season while dealing with a knee injury.

“I’m just trying to go out there and battle and compete,” said Miller, who stopped a third-period redirection by Carl Hagelin with his mask. “That was my mindset coming off an injury. That’s what it really comes down to, getting back the focus early on. I didn’t play hockey for a while. The technical stuff I worked on this summer and I pay attention to in practice.”

Even with twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin combining for just one shot, the Canucks won the new season’s first meeting between the Pacific Division’s top two teams last year. Anaheim won its third straight division title, while Vancouver finished a surprising second before losing in the opening round of the playoffs.

Sami Vatanen scored and Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots for the Ducks, who have scored just one goal while going winless in the first two games of a season that begins with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Anaheim was shut out in San Jose on Saturday in its opener before returning to Honda Center for its first real game on home ice since Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, when Chicago advanced to win the Stanley Cup.

Kevin Bieksa played nearly 24 1/2 minutes in his second game with the Ducks. Anaheim acquired the veteran defenseman from Vancouver last summer after he played 10 years with the Canucks, who drafted him in 2001. Bieksa was reunited with Ryan Kesler, the longtime Vancouver forward who moved to Anaheim before last season.

“We fought back a lot better than we did in San Jose,” Bieksa said. “So we need to keep building on this in the rest of this homestand here. If we do that, we’re going to be all right.”

After the Ducks failed to score on a power play during their first official taste of 3-on-3 overtime hockey, Vrbata and Burrows got stuttering, halting shots past Andersen, who stopped Burrows’ shot before watching it trickle under him.

“I’ve done that move a few times against a few goalies, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it against Freddie,” Burrows said. “So I tried it, and I’m lucky it went in tonight. It hit his stick and trickled in.”

Jakob Silfverberg scored in the shootout for the Ducks, who lost their home opener for just the second time in six seasons. Anaheim’s talented offensive players aren’t clicking so far, but nobody is panicking yet.

“I think we’re doing things the right way now,” Vatanen said. “We battled hard. We got some good chances. The season is long, so we’re going the right way.”

Both teams opened at a furious pace, with end-to-end chances throughout. After a scoreless first period, Vatanen got the Ducks’ first goal of the season when his long, low shot went through Mike Santorelli‘s screen.

Cracknell evened it later in the period with a sharp-angled shot that somehow deflected off Andersen’s shoulder or stick and landed behind the goalie. The journeyman got his first regular-season NHL goal since April 4, 2013, and just the seventh of his 85-game NHL career.

“Pretty fortunate goal on their part,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

NOTES: A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Honda Center to call for the suspension of Ducks D Clayton Stoner, who faces charges in Canada related to a 2013 grizzly bear hunt. … Cracknell hadn’t scored a goal in his last 49 regular-season games, although he got a postseason goal in 2014 for St. Louis.

Coming Tuesday: Dan Boyle, $4.5M healthy scratch

Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

Few things say “Oops, bad signing” quite like putting a really expensive player in street clothes (without an injury being involved).

The Philadelphia Flyers set quite the high bar in that regard, but the New York Rangers can’t laugh too much. Not with Dan Boyle expected to be a healthy scratch against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

The word from the Bergen Record is that Dylan McIlrath will draw into the Rangers lineup in Boyle’s space, although Kevin Klein will take over Boyle’s role on the power play.

Let’s face the facts. At 39, Boyle may still boast some zip on offense, but maybe not enough to justify an everyday role.

It’s not the first time the Rangers have decided to make the difficult, awkward season to phase a big name out as he approaches age 40.

Even if it’s just a momentary situation, one cannot help but wonder if Boyle’s career is screeching to halt much like Martin St. Louis’ did in 2014-15 (though the latter’s decline was more sudden).

On the bright side, it sounds like Boyle has a side job lined up with Faith No More.