BOSTON - Just three days after the Bruins staggered back to Boston, they have barged right back into the Stanley Cup Finals with two brilliant blowout wins.
Tim Thomas made 38 saves in his third shutout of the playoffs as the Bruins emphatically evened the finals at two games each with a 4-0 victory in Game 4 Wednesday night over the foundering Vancouver Canucks.
Rich Peverley scored two goals after replacing injured Nathan Horton on Boston's top line, and Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand also had goals for the Bruins, who chased Roberto Luongo early in the third period after he allowed his 12th goal in less than two games in Boston.
"It's always easier to be at home," Marchand said. "We feed off the energy, off our fans. They just bring out the best in us."
Thomas again was outstanding. He has allowed just five goals in four games in his first Stanley Cup Finals.
"He's taken a real bumpy road to get to the NHL," Boston coach Claude Julien said of his well-traveled veteran goalie, who didn't earn a regular job in Boston until he was past 30. "He's had so many obstacles in front of him that he's had to overcome. That makes him the perfect goaltender for our organization."
The finals are now a best-of-three series, with Game 5 in Vancouver on Friday.
After outscoring Vancouver, 12-1, in the last two games, the Bruins are halfway to their first NHL title since 1972 - but they will have to win at least once on the West Coast.
Boston opened its first finals trip in 21 years with two deflating one-goal losses last week in Vancouver, but the Bruins have wrested all momentum from the suddenly shaky Canucks with two thoroughly dominant wins.
Vancouver needed just one win in Boston to earn the chance to win the franchise's first championship on home ice. Instead, the Canucks headed home with huge questions about their mental toughness, defense, and goaltending.
"It's not for lack of effort, not for lack of trying to win," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault 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."
Canucks 0 Bruins 4
Series tied 2-2
Game 5: Friday at 8 p.m. in Vancouver.
Wednesday night's Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals ended too late for this edition. www.philly.com