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BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins left their home ice for the final time in a jubilant line, waving and clapping back at the adoring Garden crowd. Tim Thomas returned for one last loop as the first star in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, triumphantly waving his stick above his head.
With three blowout victories at home in the Stanley Cup finals, the Bruins picked a wonderful way to leave town for the last time this season.
Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference scored in the first 8:35 to chase Roberto Luongo from another game in Boston, and the Bruins sent the Stanley Cup finals to a decisive seventh game with a 5-2 victory over the Canucks on Monday night.
The NHL’s champion will be decided Wednesday night, and the Bruins believe they’re ready to end their 39-year Stanley Cup drought.
“Not too many people counted on us being at this point right now,” said Thomas, who has allowed just eight goals in six finals games. “It’s a great feeling. We battled hard tonight. We came to play, and it’s coming down to one game. This is what we dream of, when you’re little kids playing street hockey, you know, you’re in Game 7.”
Thomas made 36 saves for the Bruins, giving up two third-period goals but still burnishing his credentials for the Conn Smythe Trophy. He played with little tension after the Bruins ventilated his Vancouver counterpart, sending Luongo to the bench early after he allowed 15 goals in roughly 4½ periods in Boston.
Marchand whistled a shot over Luongo’s shoulder for the first goal. Lucic then trickled another through his pads 35 seconds later, and Ference’s power-play goal doomed Vancouver’s $10 million goalie.
The Canucks could have raised the Stanley Cup, but the Bruins refused to allow a Garden party.
“We wanted to make sure if we went down, we went down fighting,” Marchand said.
Only Luongo went down. The Bruins put the Canucks goalie and the Stanley Cup back on the shelf — and back on a plane to the West Coast for Game 7 on Wednesday night.
“I’m proud of the guys,” said Bruins forward Mark Recchi, who had three assists. “We had our backs to the wall, we’ve been resilient all year, and we came out and had a great first period and did what we had to do, and it comes down to Game 7. It’s one game now.”