SPORTS

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

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"It seems like so far this series, the home crowds have helped the teams," said Thomas, who has a jaw-dropping .971 save percentage in the finals, stopping 165 of Vancouver's 171 shots. "It's not always the case, but going home for Game 6, we hope it's the case one more time."

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

The Canucks would love to wrap up their first title without going through the tension of a Game 7, although they emerged from Game 5 feeling more relief than elation.

Vancouver had the NHL's highest-scoring offense and best power play during the regular season, but the Canucks have been forced to play a different game just to survive in the finals.

So far, they're just getting away with their meager offensive output because goalie Roberto Luongo has been sharp at the biggest moments. Luongo was pulled from Game 4 after giving up 12 goals in just over four periods, but the veteran Olympic gold medal-winner's shutout in Game 5 proved he has a knack for big games, no matter what his critical fans in Vancouver might think.

Luongo, the Canucks' former captain, took on a vocal leadership role in the dressing room before Game 5.

"It wasn't time to put your head down," Luongo said. "Best of 2-out-of-3, and that's the way I looked at it. We've got a great opportunity here coming Monday night."

If the Canucks get one more win without help from the NHL's last two scoring champions, this might rank among the most improbable methods of victory in finals history.

Captain Henrik Sedin — last season's MVP and NHL points leader — hasn't scored in the finals, while his brother, Daniel — this season's scoring champ and favorite for MVP — has one goal and one assist. Ryan Kesler, the second-line center who was arguably Vancouver's best player in the Western Conference playoff race, has just one assist, clearly struggling with an injury that was apparently exacerbated by a hit from Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk in Game 2.

"It's going to be tight, but if we play the right way, we have a chance," said Daniel Sedin, who hasn't scored since Game 2. "We can't play the way we did in the last two games in Boston. That has to end."

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