They massed in a sea of blue jerseys, pumped and ready to party like there was no tomorrow. But there will be a tomorrow in this strangest of Stanley Cup finals, and the tens of thousands of fans gathered in downtown city streets Monday night couldn 't hide their frustration at the Vancouver Canucks ' failure to bring home the Stanley Cup for the first time in the club 's 40-year history .
It wasn 't the loss so much as the manner of it, with their beloved Canucks yielding four goals in the first 10 minutes .
There was no chance for even a single cheer before the game was essentially over .
Subdued supporters began streaming early from the main outdoor site on Vancouver's Georgia Street .
"Even if we win the series, it will be a weird Stanley Cup, because we got beat so bad in Boston, " said Sam, a young fan from North Vancouver who declined to give his last name .
"This is tough to watch. I 'm going to find a Boston fan and have a fight, " he added as he walked off carrying a small Stanley Cup made of tinfoil and tape .
Inside Rogers Arena, where the Canucks play their home games, a near-capacity crowd cheered when goaltender Roberto Luongo was pulled - just a few days after fans hailed him to the rafters for his 1-0 shutout Friday .
The mood was similar out in Surrey, where an enthusiastic crowd of 6,000 at the city's Central City Plaza melted away to just 2,000 or so by the time the third period started.
Dave Sanghera, a Canucks rooter for 25 years, brought a real-size Stanley Cup made of wood and steel to the plaza, in hopes of celebrating an end to the team's lengthy Cup futility.
Instead, he left after the first 20 minutes. "I'm very sad. Everyone here is sad," Mr. Sanghera said.
Amarjit Parhar stayed to the end of the second period, then rushed to his car. "There's no hope," he said. Still, his 16-year-old son Jasleen said they would be back at the same site for Game 7. "And the Canucks are going to win," he vowed.
Mr. Luongo's shaky play made him a lightning rod for much of the fans' chagrin.
"He should not start Game 7," said Canucks fan Jenny Lam, who was watching the game downtown with her family. "He really shouldn't have started in Boston."
The result was doubly tough for Kosta Kostadinov, 35, and his partner. Not only did the Canucks lose, the couple had made a special trip from Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island to watch the game in downtown Vancouver, their first night away from their eight-month-old child.
They returned to their hotel before the third period began. "We thought it would be tonight," Mr. Kostadinov said, referring to the Canucks finally claiming the prized Cup. "I wish it wasn't going to Game 7."
Police estimates put the size of the crowds as high as 40,000, although that was down considerably from the 100,000 or so who filled downtown streets to capacity during Friday night's home victory.
Among those watching was Jason Kirstein of White Rock, who wore a referee's striped shirt while carrying a cane because he is visually impaired.
"I can see the screen, but I have double vision," he said, laughingly agreeing that made the score seem twice as bad.
As Rosanne Halluska walked away from the fan zone where four giant screens had been erected, she said it was simply too painful to watch. "We are fans through and through...[and]I think we just have to ready for Game Seven."
Her friend April Gonzalez was more focused on the present, after watching four pucks go into the Vancouver net so quickly. "I need a drink. We're going to watch the rest of the game in a bar."
Still, many fans remained full of hope despite their disappointment.
Cherissa Mercer, 23, drove in from Williams Lake with her husband and two children.
But she left CBC Hockey Plaza happy, ignoring defeat.
"It doesn't matter. They played their hearts out. We take the Cup in Game 7. They're going to win it in Vancouver."
"Game 7 is ours. It's ours. This Cup is ours."
With reports from Mark Hume, Wendy Stueck, Sunny Dhillon and Ian Bailey