SPORTS

Stanley Cup Finals 2011: Vancouver Canucks push Boston Bruins to brink

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Tim Thomas is giving a masterful performance in his net during the Stanley Cup finals. He's also doing an excellent job of masking the frustration that must be coursing through him.

Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo stops Bruins forward Milan Lucic during his 1-0 shutout in Game 5. (Photo: Associated Press)

The Boston Bruins' star goalie has allowed just six goals by the Vancouver Canucks in five games, yet Boston is heading home facing elimination in Game 6 on Monday.

Vancouver moved to the brink of its first NHL title in Game 5 on Friday with a 1-0 victory — the Canucks' second 1-0 home win in a finals dominated by the home teams.

Thomas is Boston's only constant in the finals, scrambling around his crease in a textbook performance of a goaltending style that won't be found in any instruction manual. The Bruins won two blowout games at home, but they haven't caught a break in Vancouver.

Unless they hold off the Canucks at TD Garden in Game 6, they won't get one last chance to sort it out.

"The plan was for us to score more than them, which I guess we have, but ..." Thomas said, his voice trailing off.

Indeed, the Bruins have outscored Vancouver 14-6 in the finals, but 12 of those goals were in two blowout wins in Boston.

Thomas stopped 24 shots in Game 5, but he failed to get to Maxim Lapierre's third-period winner, scored off a canny rebound of Kevin Bieksa's shot behind his net.

The Canucks acknowledged they had to resort to trickery and luck just to get one goal against Thomas, who might be the next on a small list of players to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP from the losing team.

Thomas would prefer to win that trophy along with the bigger prize, and he remains confident the Bruins can do it. He hopes Boston can gather momentum back home, where the Bruins twice routed the Canucks on energy drawn partially from Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome's dangerous late hit on Boston forward Nathan Horton, who's out for the series.

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