THE CANADIAN PRESS -- VANCOUVER - Patrice Bergeron scored two goals, one of them short handed, while goaltender Tim Thomas made 37 stops for the shutout as the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 to win the Stanley Cup in a tension-filled Game 7 Wednesday night.
Rookie Brad Marchand scored twice, once into an empty net, and had an assist as the Bruins won their sixth Stanley Cup and the first since 1972. Defenceman Dennis Seidenberg had two assists.
Bergeron's short-handed goal in the second period was the dagger in the Canucks' heart. It made the score 3-0 and subdued a sold-out crowd of 18,860 at Rogers Arena.
Outside the arena, furious hockey fans set fire to cars and garbage cans, tossed beer bottles at giant TV screens and ran rampant through downtown Vancouver streets
Sent in on a breakaway, Bergeron was hauled down by Vancouver defenceman Christian Ehrhoff. They collided with Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo and the puck slid into the net.
Luongo raised his arms in frustration but the referee quickly signalled a goal. The call was backed up by a video review.
Vancouver outshot Boston 37-21.
At the final whistle Bruins players streamed off the bench to mob Thomas, while the Canucks watched with their heads hung.
"We never made things easy on ourselves," veteran Mark Recchi told CBC after the game before hinting he would retire. "I knew Game 6 and 7 we were going to be there and we did it. What a feeling this is. This is a hell of a way for me to go out, that's for sure.''
Thomas awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. The stocky goaltender who plays like a linebacker, had another strong game, scrambling and diving to make saves. It was his fourth shutout of the playoffs and second against Vancouver.
He got help from a Bruins team that forced the Canucks to take long shots and quickly cleared the puck from in front of the net. That left Vancouver with few chances at rebounds.
"This team just had so much character," Thomas told CBC after the game. "Every time we got our backs up against the wall and had to win we did. Every time. To win it on the road in Game 7 is no easy task, and they came through. That's a testament to the character on that team."
It was a disappointing end to the best season in Canucks history. Vancouver had the best record in the NHL and advanced to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 17 years.
"I'm disappointed for our fans, our players and everybody but you have to give credit where credit is due," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told CBC. "Boston played a great game, it was a real hard-fought series and they deserved to win.
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"Obviously they had a plan, they were going to be physical and were going to hit after the whistle. At the end of the day it took its toll on everybody. But their goaltender was phenomenal, he made some huge saves and we just couldn't beat him in their building."
The Bruins forced Game 6 by beating the Canucks 5-2 Monday night in Boston.
Vancouver was gripped with the same excitement that seized the city during the 2010 Winter Olympics. A loud, towel-waving crowd began chanting "we want the Cup'' even before the national anthems. Across the city thousands watched the game outdoors on big screens.
Actor William Shatner was in the crowd and the Green Men were in their seats beside the Bruins' penalty box.
Bergeron's short-handed goal came with 2:25 left in the third. It was the fifth short-handed goal the Canucks gave up in the playoffs — and third against Boston — after allowing only two in the regular season.
Marchand gave Boston a 2-0 lead at 12:13 of the second period after winning a puck battle with defenceman Kevin Bieksa. The rookie then swooped behind the Canucks' net and jammed the puck past Luongo on a wraparound.
"Obviously playing hard, playing physical, play on the edge. We knew that Vancouver has an unbelievable team, they have so much skill . . . we had to find a way to slow them down, play the, really physical and win the battles and races," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara told CBC.
Bergeron opened the scoring at 14:37 of the first period on a play where Marchand did most of the work. The little centre, who has been an irritant to the Canucks all series, controlled the puck in the Vancouver end, twisting and turning away from defenders.
He sent a pretty pass to Bergeron, who fired a snap shot that hit the far post and went into the net. It was Bergeron's first goal in 10 games.
Marchand came close to making it 2-0 early in the second. He walked around Canuck defenceman Alex Edler, then rang a shot off the post.
The Bruins had the first good scoring chance of the game early in the first period. During a scramble David Krejci poked at a puck sliding through the crease but a diving Luongo managed to get a glove on it.
The Canucks came close in the second when Alex Burrows pounced on a breakaway. Burrows fired a shot that hit the glove of a diving Thomas, then pounced off the right arm of Chara, who had jumped into the empty crease.
About two hours prior to the game Bruins forward Nathan Horton, out with a concussion, emptied a bottle of water on the Rogers Arena ice. It was labelled "Garden Ice."
During the game, injured Canuck Mason Raymond was shown on the big screen waving to a crowd. Raymond was wearing a corset on his upper body to protect the vertebrae compression fracture he suffered on a hit by Boston's Johnny Boychuk in Game 6.
The Canucks were trying to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. They lost in the 1982 and 1994 final. Vancouver also wanted to become the first Canadian team since the 1993 Montreal Canadians to win the Cup.
Boston's last appearance in the final was 1990 when they lost in five games to the Edmonton Oilers.
The series had as many twists and turns as the winding highway that connects Vancouver with the ski resort of Whistler.
The Canucks dominated the first three games at home. Luongo allowed just two goals and twice shutout the Bruins.
It was a different story in Boston, where the Bruins outscored Vancouver 17-3 and twice chase Luongo out of his net.
The series was physical and at times nasty. Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome was suspended for the rest of the playoffs after a hit on Horton in Game 3 that sidelined the Boston forward.
Burrows avoided suspension in Game 1 when the league said there was not enough evidence he bit Bergeron's finger during a scrum.
Notes: The Canucks inserted Vancouver native Jeff Tambellini into the lineup for the injured Mason Raymond. ...Canucks defenceman Keith Ballard took the pre-game skate but was not in the lineup. ...The Bruins went a stretch of over 13 minutes between the first and second period without a shot on net. ...Luongo is the first goaltender since Toronto's Frank McCool in 1945 to record a pair of shutouts by a 1-0 score in the final.
Jim Morris, The Canadian Press