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2011 stanley cup finals

Raffi Torres Allows the Late Local News to Start on Time

It looked for all the world like the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals was going to overtime last night. After all, neither team had managed a goal over the first 59 and a half minutes — a stretch, we'll note, that included quite a bit of power-play time — so that the teams might go another 30 seconds of even-strength play without scoring seemed like a reasonable assumption.

But then a pass off the boards from Kevin Bieksa was won by Ryan Kesler near the Boston blue line, and Kesler stayed onside — or did he? — to gain control inside the offensive zone. Then in an instant, two quick passes wiped out an evening of frustration for the NHL's highest-scoring team: Kesler fired a cross-ice pass to Jannik Hansen, who drew the attention of Zdeno Chara just as Raffi Torres — former Islanders everywhere! — headed for the net. Hansen then found the open Torres, who redirected the puck by Tim Thomas with just 18.5 seconds left. And that was that — the Bruins' effort spoiled in a matter of a seconds. (This happened at roughly 10:54 on the East Coast, by the way, surely to the delight of NBC affiliate newsrooms throughout the Eastern time zone who'd been planning an 11 p.m. broadcast.)

In any case, here's the game-winning goal:

The Bruins had their chances to steal Game 1 but couldn't do it, and the consensus this morning is that they let one get away. That's true enough: They squandered a lengthy five-on-three, after all, and couldn't win despite holding the great Vancouver power play scoreless on the night. But if last night was any indication, this should be a fun series. Game 2 isn't until Saturday, but in the meantime, the attention turns to the NHL VP Mike Murphy, who will decide the fate of Vancouver's Alex Burrows, who appeared to bite Patrice Bergeron's finger at the end of the first period. Puck Daddy helpfully calls attention to a couple of recent (regular-season) biting incidents, one of which resulted in a two-game suspension, and the other of which resulted in nothing because of a lack of video evidence. Brendan Shanahan just realized what he's gotten himself into.

Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images