JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images Torres beats Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas to score the last-gasp winner.
Ice Ice Baby

Breaking the ice: Torres' late winner gives Canucks the edge

The Stanley Cup Finals kicked off in Vancouver last night. Here’s a quick rundown of how the Canucks beat the Bruins to take the opener.

The game: The Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 1-0.

The series: The Canucks take a 1-0 series lead ahead of Game 2 on Saturday night.

The lowdown: Raffi Torres ended an ugly Stanley Cup finals opener with a dramatic flash of beauty for the Vancouver Canucks.

Torres scored on an exceptional pass from Jannik Hansen with 18.5 seconds to play, and the Canucks stunned the Boston Bruins 1-0 on Wednesday night.

Roberto Luongo made 36 saves in his third shutout of the postseason for the Canucks, but Boston’s Tim Thomas matched him until Torres — the only Vancouver player with previous finals experience — slipped through the Bruins’ defense for an eye-popping goal that launched a wild celebration at Rogers Arena.

“I thought we were going to play all night the way it was going,” Luongo said. “It was an exciting way to start the series. It was such a close game. It could’ve gone either way, a flip of the coin.”

Game 2 is Saturday night in Vancouver.

Thomas stopped 33 shots for the Bruins, who went scoreless on six power plays. Boston also killed six Vancouver power plays in an outstanding defensive game against the NHL’s highest-scoring team until the final minute.

“I heard Raffi yelling,” Hansen said with a grin. “It was easy to hear him.”

With uneasy fans anticipating overtime, the Canucks’ third-line wings connected. Hansen spotted Torres streaking toward the net and floated a pass right to him, and Torres slipped it past Thomas for his third goal of the postseason.

“We brought him in because he was an emotional, physical player,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said of Torres, who lost the 2006 Stanley Cup finals with Edmonton.

He’s had nothing but a great attitude and a great work ethic with us all year long. He comes to play, prepares himself real well. We need him to play the way he does. You know, he’s a little bit sometimes outside the box, but you’ve got to let him be who he is.

Both teams entered their first playoff meeting looking to end lengthy Stanley Cup droughts. Vancouver has never won the NHL title in four decades of existence, losing its only two trips to the finals in 1982 and 1994. Boston has lost five straight finals since winning in 1972.

Vancouver was the NHL’s best team in the regular season, setting franchise records with 54 wins and 117 points while winning the Presidents’ Trophy. Boston finished third in the East and survived a nail-biting first-round series with Montreal before outlasting the Lightning to reach its first Stanley Cup finals since 1990.

– Match report by AP