BOSTON -- The Stanley Cup finals are headed back to Vancouver, all tied up two games apiece.
And then, they're coming back to Boston for a sixth game.
The Bruins won Game 4 by a 4-0 score tonight – their second straight dominating performance in Boston. Now let's see if they can break through in Vancouver, where the Canucks won Games 1 and 2.
The Canucks can't be pleased with the way it played on the road. But they don't really have to be. Games 5 and 7 will be at home, and they can win their first Stanley Cup ever, and skate it around the Rogers Center ice even if they decide not to show up for Game 6 in Boston and forfeit.
Which, the way things have gone for them here, might not be a bad idea.
Some more late-game chippiness has Adam McQuaid watching the end of the game from the locker room and the Bruins trying to finish the game killing a four-minute penalty. Skirmishes have broken out at both ends of the ice – the one in Boston's end came after Tim Thomas slashed Alex Burrows and then went after him with both fists.
It was a crowd-pleasing move – Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron in Game 1, then scored twice, including the game-winner in Game 2.
It's not clear whether the injury to Nathan Horton was what got the Bruins all fired up – though considering they've outscored Vancouver 12-1 since then, it's a good bet that it was.
Clearly, though, the fans haven't forgotten the Bruins forward who was knocked out with a frightening and severe concussion in the first period of Game 3 on Monday night. The scoreboard camera seemed to have found an endless supply of Horton jerseys in the crowd – and every time one of them goes up on the video screen, a huge cheer goes up.
With about 8 minutes left, the crowd broke into a chant of "Na-than Hor-ton!"
We've got 5:25 to go in Game 4. Bruins still lead 4-0.
The only suspense now is whether Tim Thomas can come up with the shutout.
The Bruins goalie almost came up with one in Game 3, but he gave up a meaningless goal late in the third period that made it 5-1. A Vezina Trophy finalist, Thomas had a career-high nine shutouts in the regular season. He has two more so far in the postseason, both against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals, and now must be considered a favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.
Rich Peverley has his second goal of the night, but this one was all Milan Lucic.
The Bruins forward made a move over the blue line to fake out defender Kevin Bieksa, who went sliding into the boards. Meanwhile, Lucic headed for the net and sent the puck across into the middle, where it bounced off a couple of sticks and Peverley's midsection and into the net.
That made it 4-0 with 16:21 left in the game, and it sent Roberto Luongo to the bench in favor of Cory Schneider.
After allowing three goals in the first seven periods of the Stanley Cup final series, Luongo has given up 12 more in a little more than four periods.
It will be interesting to see if Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo can finish this one out.
He hasn't been that bad in Game 4, though he probably would like another try at the Michael Ryder wrist shot that became Boston's second goal. But Luongo fell apart rather quickly in Game 3 – four goals in the second period and four more in the third. Coach Alain Vigneault offered to pull him on Monday night, but Luongo said he wanted to stay in.
No word on what the conversation was tonight during Vancouver's timeout after Brad Marchand made it 3-0 – just 2:18 after Ryder's goal. But if the Bruins strike quickly in the third period it might be time for Luongo to call it a night and rest up for Game 5 in Vancouver on Friday night. If Boston wins, that guarantees a sixth game on Monday – and two more cross-country trips for the teams.
In case anyone's wondering, Vancouver's backup goalie is Cory Schneider, a Boston College product who played in the TD Garden for the Beanpot and Hockey East tournaments. The Bruins have Tuukka Rask working the door; he was the No. 1 goaltender at the end of last year, but Tim Thomas won the job back from him this season.
Rask hasn't played in the postseason – it's been two months since he's gotten into a game. Schneider has played in three postseason games, starting Game 6 of the first-round series against Chicago and allowing three goals before he was pulled with about 17 1/2 minutes left. That was about six weeks ago.
Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand scored 2:18 apart to turn a one-goal game into possibly another blowout.
Marchand chipped a loose puck that was bouncing in front of the net past Roberto Luongo to make it 3-0 with 6:31 left in the second period. Patrice Bergeron gets an assist on that one – his 14th of the playoffs. The Canucks called their timeout, but Luongo stayed in the game; in Monday's 8-1 blowout, coach Alain Vigneult said he gave his goalie the option of whether to stay in.
The crowd still was juiced over Ryder's goal when Marchand scored. Ryder made it 2-0 on a play that seemed harmless enough, when Tyler Seguin slapped it out of the Bruins' zone and across the ice. Ryder was waiting outside the Vancouver zone with Sami Salo in front of him.
Ryder didn't have any teammates to help out, so he fired off a wrist shot that was just enough of a knuckleball to trick goalie Roberto Luongo and get under his glove.
It's the first point of the series for Seguin, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft. He sat out last game but he's back in the lineup because of the injury to Nathan Horton.
First power play for Boston, and it was a good penalty kill for the Canucks. Boston managed just two shots with the advantage, and Vancouver even had a decent shorthanded scoring chance.
The Bruins' power play has been struggling in the playoffs. They couldn't score in their first 21 chances of the postseason before finally breaking through against Montreal in the first round. Things have picked up a bit: They are 3 for 13 in the series – make that 3 for 14 – but they did score twice on the power play in Game 3. (Of course, they scored every which way in that 8-1 blowout.)
Mason Raymond was sent off for high-sticking this time. Vancouver is killing penalties at a rate of over 80 percent.
The first period's over in Boston, and the Bruins have a 1-0 lead over the Canucks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Rich Peverley has the only goal so far, with an assist by David Krejci that moved him into a tie for the NHL lead in playoff scoring. Krejci has 11 goals and 10 assists, tying him with Vancouver's Henrik Sedin and his two goals, 19 assists.
Vancouver has four players in the top seven in scoring.
After Krejci, Boston's next-best scorer is Nathan Horton, who is seventh with 17 points but out for the rest of the series with a severe concussion. Boston forward Patrice Bergeron is also in there, with four goals and 13 assists.
Rich Peverley has given the Boston Bruins a 1-0 lead in their attempt to even the Stanley Cup finals at two games apiece.
David Krejci poked it past the last line of defense, and Peverley went in all alone on Roberto Luongo before putting it through the five-hole with 8:01 left in the first. That's the first first-period goal for Boston in the series.
Just the fourth shot of the game for Boston.
Give Zdeno Chara the other assist.
The first power play goes to Vancouver.
Michael Ryder was sent off for tripping on an obvious call near the blue line right in front of the ref. The Canucks had the best power play in the regular season, but they were just 1 for 16 in the first three games of the finals. In fact, they gave the Bruins two shorthanded goals on Monday night in Game 3.
Not much doing on this one, either. Although they put some pressure on the Bruins' zone in the latter half of the advantage, they managed just one shot – a scorcher from the point that Tim Thomas turned away cleanly.
We're back at the TD Garden for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.
A couple of changes in the lineups as a result of the hit that sent Nathan Horton to the hospital: Rookie Tyler Seguin is in for the Bruins after being scratched for Game 3. Keith Ballard is on defense for the Canucks in place of Aaron Rome after he was suspended for the remainder of the series for the late hit on Horton. Ballard is making $4.2 million, but he's only played two of the previous 12 games and hasn't appeared in the finals.
Horton is out for the rest of the series with a severe concussion. But he went home from the hospital yesterday and was said to be exchanging text messages with his teammates.
Should be interesting to see if this one looks like the first two games, which were tightly played, one-goal Vancouver victories, or the third. In Game 3 on Monday night, Boston broke it open after a scoreless first period with four goals in the second and four in the third. A high-scoring contest could favor the Bruins, who are 9-4 in the playoffs in games with five or more goals and 4-4 with four or fewer.
The Bruins got things going early by playing highlights from Monday's game, along with some key goals from previous Cup runs. Speaking of which: Bobby Orr, referred to in these parts simply as "No. 4," is in the building, hanging out with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper before the game.
Even the Red Sox are jumping on the Bruins bandwagon: They called up a catcher named (Luis) Exposito on Wednesday.