VANCOUVER - Raffi Torres ended an ugly Stanley Cup finals opener with a dramatic flash of beauty for the Vancouver Canucks.
Torres scored on an exceptional pass from Jannik Hansen with 18.5 seconds to play, and the Canucks stunned the Boston Bruins last night, 1-0.
Roberto Luongo made 36 saves in his third shutout of the postseason for the Canucks, but Boston's Tim Thomas matched him until Torres - the only Vancouver player with previous finals experience - slipped through the defense for a beautiful goal that launched a wild celebration at Rogers Arena.
"I thought we were going to play all night the way it was going," Luongo said. "It was an exciting way to start the series. It was such a close game. It could've gone either way, a flip of the coin."
Thomas stopped 33 shots for the Bruins, who went scoreless on six power plays. Boston played outstanding defense until the NHL's highest-scoring team finally connected in the final minute.
With uneasy fans anticipating overtime, the Canucks' third-line wings connected. Hansen spotted Torres streaking toward the net and floated a pass right to him, and Torres slipped it past Thomas for his third goal of the postseason.
"I heard Raffi yelling," Hansen said with a grin. "It was easy to hear him."
Game 2 is Saturday night in Vancouver.
Boston also killed six Canucks power plays in an outstanding defensive game led by captain Zdeno Chara, but Torres' goal ended the 37-year-old Thomas' shutout streak at just under 129 minutes. He hadn't allowed a goal since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, shutting out Tampa Bay in Game 7.
Ryan Kesler's pass off a Johnny Boychuk turnover set up the final-minute scoring sequence in a tense, tight-checking game featuring stellar defense and bad-tempered play by both clubs.
Canucks forward Alex Burrows even appeared to bite the gloved finger of Boston's Patrice Bergeron after the first-period buzzer, raising the possibility of a suspension for the Canucks' rambunctious, first-line wing.
In a game with a surprising amount of nastiness for two teams that meet once a season, Burrows and Bergeron were in the middle of a big melee behind the Boston net. Replays appeared to show Burrows chomp down as Bergeron reached over a linesman to put his glove in Burrows' face.
"Oh yeah, he did. He cut me a little bit on my finger," Bergeron said. "But I'm not going to be here complaining about it. I'll let the league do their job, but he sure did."
Bergeron, who played mostly against the Canucks' top line, went straight to the referees after holding up the index finger on his right hand.
"They didn't see it," Bergeron said. "We were speaking French, me and [Burrows], and I told him, 'Why did you do that?' That linesmen speaks French, and his explanation was he said that I put my finger in his mouth and he had to do it. I'll leave it at that, but I'm sure the league is going to look at it."
Both teams entered their first playoff meeting looking to end lengthy Stanley Cup droughts. Vancouver has never won the NHL title in four decades of existence, losing its only two trips to the finals in 1982 and 1994. Boston has lost five straight finals since winning in 1972.
The Bruins again were hurt by their terrible power play, which managed just five goals in 61 chances in the Eastern Conference playoffs.