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Up 3-2 and all else behind, Canucks have chance to hoist Cup

by | CBSSports.com

Maybe the Vancouver Canucks realize by now that they only need to trash their oranges and grapefruits -- not their entire approach to hockey -- before they go through customs.

As the two games at TD Garden showed, the Canucks play about as well as their nation's colorful money spends in Beantown. (Really, that shouldn't be hard these days with our dismal exchange rate.) Roberto Luongo is still a 6-foot-3 backstop, the Sedin twins are still hard to tell apart and Maxim Lapierre is just as irritating, yet somehow the Canucks are different away from Rogers Arena, where they moved a game away from the franchise's first Stanley Cup title with a 1-0 victory on Friday.

"I don't know why it was so tough," Canucks winger Jannik Hansen said on Saturday. "We definitely didn't play our game the way we'd like to. We've been a good road team all year and through the playoffs as well. For some reason, we didn't find that game the first two games in Boston."

None of that will matter when the series resumes in Boston on Monday. The Canucks only need to put together three solid periods for Canada's first title since the Montreal Canadiens won it all in 1993. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said the topic of hoisting the Cup is hardly a taboo subject with the team.

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"We weren't shy about talking about what our goals were," Vigneault said. "Now we've got an opportunity on Monday to achieve that goal. Until that's done, everybody's real focused on the task at hand."

The Canucks weren't a flop early in the games in Boston. Rich Peverley's tally in which he was allowed to break free on Luongo with eight minutes left in Game 3 was the only goal the Canucks allowed in the first period of Game 3 and Game 4.

Those were the kind of first periods you'd like to see as a road team. Then the second -- and third -- periods happened.

"We have to be very focused [and] stay together as a group," Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "It's going to be a hostile crowd. They're loud there. They're violent. They're everything. We got to stick together, the 25 of us, play in a five-man unit. We're one game away right now."

This is the third consecutive season the home team has won the first five games. Before the 2009 Finals, that only happened once in the previous 20 years: the New Jersey Devils-Anaheim Ducks series in 2003.

There are some other similarities here. Boston goalie Tim Thomas is getting some run on the Conn Smythe Trophy front, much like Anaheim netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere did in those Finals eight years ago. Giguere joined Philadelphia's Ron Hextall as the only recipients of the NHL's version of the playoff MVP award to win it on a team that lost in the Finals.

Thomas hasn't stolen any games in this series -- the Bruins' two wins came by seven- and four-goal margins, respectively -- but he had them in their three one-goal losses at Rogers. Thomas, with a 24-save effort in Game 5, is 36 saves away from tying Vancouver's Kirk McLean's 1994 mark for the most saves in the postseason (761). Thomas' goals-against average (2.07) and save percentage (.937) in the playoffs are also impressive.

Luongo isn't a fan, but that's OK. The vote is up to select members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Luongo just has to concern himself with not being a lemon -- like the rest of the Canucks -- on Monday.


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