BOSTON — After using a 4-for-11 showing on the power play to fuel a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was mostly pleased with the way the on-ice officials called the game.
The key word: mostly.
“We still took quite a fair share of penalties. I won’t say that I question any of those penalties, because I could get myself in trouble,” Vigneault said after the game.
“It was the type of game where there were a lot of things going on after the whistle,” Vigneault added. “Our guys tried to keep their composure as well as they could and played whistle to whistle. That’s pretty hard when the other team gets two or three free whacks after every whistle, but that’s just part of how the games are called. And when they’re called that way, you gotta play through it, and that’s what we did.”
A Canuck calling out the Bruins for overly physical play is nothing new, as it was a common theme in the Canucks’ dressing room last June during the Stanley Cup Final. But this time, the Bruins not only had to kill off 11 penalties while the Canucks had to kill off seven, but they also had to play without two top-line forwards. Milan Lucic was given a game misconduct just 3:54 in the game for leaving the bench during what turned into a line brawl. That game misconduct, according to some reports, may have been wrongly called and could be rescinded.
Brad Marchand was likewise given a game misconduct for clipping Sami Salo with 1:13 left in the second period.
The Canucks used that five-minute major penalty to score their third and fourth goals, and that proved to be enough to win the game.
Henrik Sedin scored that third goal and showed some emotion afterwards. He and his teammates, as you’d imagine, were quite pleased with the way the game was officiated, but he still hinted that there could have been more calls on Boston.
“It was good. [The referees] got a tough job,” the Canucks’ captain said. “There’s things happening behind their backs, there’s cross-checks, there’s slashing. Like I said, if they [had called] every penalty on the ice, we wouldn’t have any 5-on-5 play tonight.”
Sedin also noted that the clipping penalty on Marchand was a similar hit to the one the pesky B’s winger laid on brother Daniel Sedin during last year’s Final.
“Tonight, it was a five and a game, and it maybe should’ve been last time, too,” Henrik said.
The theme of the Bruins taking their physicality too far continued from defenseman Kevin Bieksa.
“We stood our ground for sure,” said Bieksa, who finished with two assists in more than 28 minutes of ice time. “Obviously, these guys are one of the biggest, toughest teams in the league, but this isn’t boxing. This isn’t MMA. This is hockey, so it’s a combination of speed, skill and toughness, and I thought we did a good job.”
The Canucks clearly had issues with the Bruins’ physical play last June but failed to come out on the winning end in four of the seven games. Daniel Sedin said the difference this time around was that the Bruins didn’t have a comfortable lead to work with, so the penalties proved much more costly.
“That’s how they play,” Daniel Sedin said. “Tonight was a tight game, so let them do that. They can do that all night long, it doesn’t matter. Last year, it wasn’t a tight game, and that’s when maybe you get a little bit frustrated. But tonight, we kept it close.”
It was close because goaltender Cory Schneider kept it that way. The Massachusetts native turned aside 36 Bruins shots in the win, and while he didn’t participate in any of the rough stuff, he did laugh when saying he glanced down the ice at Tim Thomas during the first-period brawl.
“But he stayed in his net, and I stayed in mine,” Schneider said. “He didn’t look that interested in it, so neither was I.”
Schneider, who played in two games during last year’s Final, said the Canucks were able to do exactly what they wanted, thanks to the power plays.
“I think that was a blueprint in the Finals last year to make them pay on the power play,” Schneider said. “We weren’t able to do it last year, but tonight [we scored four power-play goals]. This time around, we made them pay for going to the box.”