The Boston Bruins, charged with making up for Nathan Horton's missing offence, more than pulled their weight Wednesday.
The Bruins, who have adopted a "win-it-for-Horton" mantra, were superior to the Vancouver Canucks and got an easy 4-0 victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final at TD Garden.
The Canucks, meanwhile, look like they will go through one more crisis before their 2011 playoff run is complete.
The offence has gone missing, especially on the power play, which is a putrid 1-for-22 in the series. The defence is a disaster, and goaltender Roberto Luongo once again looks rattled. The only positive is the best-of-seven NHL series is tied 2-2 heading back to Vancouver for Game 5 on Friday.
"There is a lot of talk about momentum on the outside, but we're focused on the next game," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said.
Rich Peverley scored twice, Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand added singles, and the Bruins roared back in the Cup final by outscoring the Canucks 12-1 in two games on home ice.
Peverley and Ryder are two of the wingers Boston is leaning on after losing its top-line right flank in Game 3, an 8-1 Bruins win. Horton suffered a "severe concussion," according to his team, following a hellacious hit from Aaron Rome, and will miss the remainder of the series.
The Canucks defenceman received a four-game suspension, and the illegal hit stands as a turning point (the crowd chanted "Nathan Horton" in the third period). That is particularly true given Rome was replaced in the lineup by Keith Ballard, whose confidence is shot.
"Not easy to put him this situation, but that's the situation he's in," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said.
Ballard - with some help from Sedin - turned the puck over prior to Boston's third goal, and their combined futility allowed Marchand to put a nail in Vancouver's coffin. A 3-0 deficit, as Marchand's goal made it, might as well have been 10-0 given the recent play of Tim Thomas.
The Bruins goaltender has been spectacular since a middling Game 2, and made 38 saves Wednesday for his third shutout of the playoffs.
"I was incredibly happy to see Nathan in the locker room," Thomas said of a pregame visit from Horton. "He gave me a big boost."
At the other end, Luongo is wounded. The Canucks goaltender doesn't heal easily, and after being lambasted for eight goals in a Game 3 loss, he didn't quite get all the softies out of his system.
Boston's second goal - a distance shot from Ryder - appeared to deflect off Canucks defenceman Sami Salo's stick, but it was at such long range that it should have been stoppable for a Vézina Trophy candidate.
After Peverley scored his second goal of the game, less than four minutes into the third period, Luongo was hooked for backup Cory Schneider, and a loud cheer went up from the fans watching in Vancouver.
Luongo was beaten four times on 20 shots in a little more than 43 minutes, and surrendered 12 goals while in Beantown. It was reminiscent of his struggles in a first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, when he played two stinkers in a row and was benched for a game.
"Right now, there's a few games left, you can't be down," winger Daniel Sedin said. "He's got to play the way that got him here, and we as a team have to play the way that got us here."
Peverley, subbing for Horton on Boston's top line, scored the game's first goal on a nice two-man game with David Krejci. The Bruins centre chipped a puck past Alexander Edler, and Peverley caught Raffi Torres flat-footed, creating a 1-on-1 situation with Luongo.Report Typo/Error