x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The best revenge is winning

Boston goalie Tim Thomas says revenge is not a factor, but the Canucks' intensity must return tonight.

Rich Peverley celebrates with the crowd after the first of his two goals against Vancouver.
Rich Peverley celebrates with the crowd after the first of his two goals against Vancouver.

Revenge is a tawdry, pointless concept to Tim Thomas.

Boston's superb goalie is back to his very best and is determined to carry his form into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals in Vancouver tonight.

And Thomas said Boston's two near-perfect performances at home were not about getting vengeance for Nathan Horton's season-ending concussion in Game 3. The Bruins were only thinking about getting Horton a championship ring.

Thanks to a dominant two-game stretch at home, the Bruins are half-way there with the finals tied at two games each.

Thomas made 38 saves in his third shutout of the post-season, Rich Peverley scored twice as Horton's replacement on Boston's top line and the Bruins won 4-0 in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

"Every time this year that we've faced adversity as a team, we've rose to the challenge," Thomas said.

"We needed to do it one more time, because we were down 2-0 [in the series]. Now we've done that for two games. The challenge for us will be to keep doing that."

The Bruins steamrollered through Game 4 on an emotional high from a stirring pre-game tribute to Horton, who will miss the rest of the series after a vicious late hit from Vancouver defenceman Aaron Rome.

Horton showed up in the Bruins' locker room after the game, thrilling his teammates and presenting the jacket - a tattered, kitschy '80s Bruins jacket that has been turned into a travelling team trophy for the most important player in every Boston victory - to Peverley.

"Watching him going down, we want to finish what we started for him," Thomas said.

"To be honest with you, we want to do it all for ourselves and for each other. You have to have that drive, or you probably wouldn't have arrived in the finals where we're at right now."

Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand also scored, and the Bruins chased Roberto Luongo early in the third period after the Vancouver goalie allowed his 12th goal in less than two games in Boston.

"You don't get to where you are without going through adversity," said Claude Julien, the Boston coach.

"That's how you grow. That's what I'd like to attribute this to. We've been through some tough times. You have to battle through those moments."

The Bruins opened their first finals trip in 21 years with two deflating one-goal losses last week at Vancouver, but they have wrested all momentum from the Canucks.

Luongo gave up four goals on 20 shots before Cory Schneider replaced him, ending yet another feckless defensive performance for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks.

"We have two out of three with home-ice advantage, and that's what we've worked for all season," Luongo said.

"We need to get playing the way we did in the first two games."

Vancouver needed just one victory in Boston to earn the chance to win the franchise's first championship on home ice tonight.

Instead, the Canucks headed home with huge questions about their mental toughness, defence and goaltending.

"It's not for lack of effort, not for lack of trying to win," Alain Vigneault, the Vancouver coach, said. "Give the other team credit. They're playing a smart game, and right now they've been able to shut us down offensively the last two games."

Thomas was flawless yet again in a play-off run that's turning into the defining achievement of his winding career. He has allowed just five goals in four games in his first Stanley Cup finals, with Vancouver's vaunted Sedin twins - the NHL's past two scoring champions - failing to beat him.

And despite the NHL's warning to these teams about keeping their competition between the whistles, the third period saw another handful of skirmishes - and Thomas was in the middle of the biggest.

He delighted Boston's fans when he slashed Vancouver agitator Alex Burrows with 1:51 to play, precipitating another brawl that left Thomas without his helmet.

"I thought I'd give him a little love tap, let them know that I know what you're doing, but I'm not going to let you do it forever," Thomas said. "That's all that was. A typical battle." The Bruins are winning most of them, partially on motivation from Horton's injury.

With the victory secure in the final minutes, the entire building loudly chanted Horton's name.

The Canucks are a mess on defence after losing top blue liner Dan Hamhuis to an injury in Game 1 before Rome's suspension.

Perhaps the Canucks' only good news out of Boston is that the home team is dominating this series - and they have got two more potential home games.

"We're not going to sweep someone in the finals," Henrik Sedin, the Vancouver captain, said. "They have too good of a team. I don't think anybody can win if their top players aren't scoring.

"There's three games left. We can't be frustrated."