VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Boston Bruins came into the Stanley Cup finals answering questions about an inept power play and inability to score.
They’re facing them again after failing to covert four early chances with the man advantage, and failing to cash in against Roberto Luongo in a 1-0 loss in Game 5 on Friday night.
Boston had three power-play chances in the first period, and got another on a questionable goaltender-interference call early in the second. But other than forcing a couple great saves on consecutive chances off Milan Lucic’s deflection and Patrice Bergeron alone in the slot on the rebound, the Bruins barely tested Luongo until late in the third period.
“We had some chances for sure early in the game, some power-play opportunities, and we didn’t capitalize on it,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara said.
Considering they beat the Luongo 12 times the last two games in Boston, and chased him from the third period of Game 4, they may regret it.
“I don’t think we tested him enough,” said Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who stopped 24 shots. “We weren’t getting the same type of chances we were getting in Games 3 and 4.”
Boston returns home for Game 6 on Monday night needing a win to keep their season — and Stanley Cup dreams — alive after failing to take advantage of, and further shake the confidence of a goalie they dominated for two straight games. Now the Bruins have to try and stay alive against a rejuvenated Luongo, who seemed to rediscover his form as Game 5 went on, making several great stops in the final period.
Given how shaky Luongo looked in Boston — and the Canucks insisted throughout that their goalie wasn’t the only one to blame for the lopsided losses — the Bruins needed more than two bang-bang chances by Lucic and Bergeron. But they didn’t test him often enough, especially with the extra attacker, and settled for outside shots for most of the first two periods during 5-on-5 play they were supposed to be better at.
Vancouver’s defense certainly deserves some of the credit as they collapsed back in front of Luongo to take away the few rebounds and second chances he gave up, including Sami Salo stripping Lucic on an open net opportunity less than four minutes into the game.
“It almost seemed like we were letting them push us out of the way in front of the net,” said Lucic, who wasn’t even credited for a shot despite the tip. “We’ve got to fight harder to get in his vision, get traffic. He’s a world-class goaltender and if he sees it he s going to stop it.
The Bruins also failed to convert a couple early odd-man rushes as the Canucks’ defense got caught out of position trying to create hits and offense the other way. But Chris Kelly’s 2-on-1 shot off the crossbar was as close as they came to beating Luongo off the rush.
“We had to be better. We need to create some more traffic in front, make better decisions when we have these outnumbered situations,” Chara said.
Now they’ll have to answer for a power play that is 0 for 8 over the last two games after scoring three times the previous two, 3 for 21 in the series, and just 8 for 82 in the playoffs, a shockingly poor 9.7 percent success rate.
“Every time you have a chance on the power play we have to find a way, either go get the momentum or score a huge goal,” Bergeron said. “We’re not taking anything for granted. We got to do the job, especially on the power play.”