BOSTON -- The Stanley Cup has left the building.
Under heavy security, the sacred chalice was rolled into TD Garden on Monday night under lock and key. All the Vancouver Canucks had to do was beat the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals and the Cup was theirs.
Well, Stanley and the champagne remain on ice.
The Bruins defeated the Canucks and avoided elimination with a decisive 5-2 victory Monday at the Garden to force Game 7 on Wednesday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The season comes down to one game and fans couldn't have asked for anything else.
Knowing the Canucks would be foaming at the mouth for a chance to drink from the Cup, the Bruins needed to play the way they did in Games 3 and 4 on home ice in order to even this series at three games apiece.
They did just that.
The Bruins came out hard. They came out fast. And they capitalized on their chances, chasing Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo from the game at 8:35 of the first period.
Those four unanswered tallies in a span of 4:14 in the first period set a Cup finals record for the fastest four goals by one team. The Montreal Canadiens held the previous mark of 5:29 against the Detroit Red Wings on March 31, 1956.
"We wanted to get off to a good start," Ryder said. "We wanted to make sure we got pucks to the net, use our speed and play hard. We did that early in the game and it paid off. We knew they weren't going to quit and we had to keep playing the same way."
Marchand gave Boston a 1-0 lead when he completely embarrassed Luongo, beating the netminder to the top right corner on the short side at 5:31. It was Marchand's ninth goal of the postseason, which set a club record for goals by a rookie in one playoff year, breaking the mark of Mike Krushelnyski (1983) and Bobby Joyce (1988).
After the game, Marchand did not want to talk about his personal accomplishments.
"It's about the team," he said.
The Bruins, including Marchand, need to find a way to bottle their offensive prowess at home and bring it with them on the road.
"It's going to be tough," Marchand said. "We seem to be able to build a ton of energy off our crowd. So we're going to have to find some way to do it. We'll use each other to get up and try to build some energy off that, and hopefully that's enough."
Lucic's tally came at 6:06 when he snuck a shot five-hole on Luongo for a 2-0 lead. The Bruins' top line struggled to create any sort of offense in Game 5. Lucic admitted after Game 6 that he and linemate David Krejci talked about their need to contribute.
"You have to go do it. It's what you need to do. You have to want to do it," Lucic said. "When we have that mindset, I think that's when we're able to come out and play like we did."
Ference netted his power-play goal at 8:35 for a 3-0 lead, forcing Canucks coach Alain Vigneault to give Luongo the hook.
Ryder notched his goal at 9:45 to give Boston a 4-0 first-period lead.
After a scoreless second, the Bruins seemed timid in the third and the Canucks' Henrik Sedin gave Vancouver its first goal 22 seconds into the period.
Boston responded when Krejci pumped in his 12th goal of the playoffs to give the Bruins a 5-1 advantage and they'd hold on to force Game 7.
Ah, Game 7.
It all comes down to one game. Anything can happen in a Game 7, but the Bruins will try to copy their blueprint of Games 3, 4 and 6 and recreate it on Wednesday in Vancouver.
Boston outscored Vancouver 17-3 at the Garden. But the Canucks have outscored the Bruins 5-2 at Rogers Arena.
"It's really strange," Krejci said. "It's hard to say. I know we dominated when we played at home and they beat us over there, so it is really strange. But Game 7, this is the last game for both teams and we've got to go out there and play as hard as we can."
Bruins veteran and future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi has said that if the Bruins win the Cup, he will retire. In order for that to happen, Boston needs to play its physical game and strike first in Game 7.
"It's about getting to our game and playing with the energy that you need to," Recchi said. "We've got to do it on the road for one game now. We've done it at home. We haven't done it as well in their building."
Despite a pair of losses to start this series, the Bruins proved in Games 1 and 2 at Rogers Arena they can play in that hostile territory. Boston took advantage of home ice and evened the series at two games apiece with back-to-back wins in Games 3 and 4 at the Garden.
Game 5 back in Vancouver was brutal for the Bruins. They relied too heavily on goaltender Tim Thomas and could not generate any offense against Luongo, whom they had torched for 12 goals in the two previous games.
The Bruins responded back at home in Game 6, and they'll need to again in Game 7.
"We're going to have to put together a full 60-minute game," Recchi said. "To realize your ultimate goal, your dream, I think the guys are going to be willing to do it on both sides and it's going to be a heck of a game."
"We definitely have to do it next game," he said. "It's the last game of the year and we've got to throw it all out there and make sure we bring the same intensity that we had tonight. We need the same physicality and the same emotion. If we do that, especially early in the game, hopefully we get the momentum and go from there."
The Cup was in the building and the Canucks did nothing to give themselves a chance to hoist it on Garden ice. Vancouver's team bus hadn't even left the Garden when Vigneault quickly erased any memory of his team's Game 6 loss.
"To tell you the truth, it doesn't really matter," he said. "At the end of the day, they won and we're going back home in front of our fans. It's a one-game showdown to win the Cup. That's it."
Game 7 is it. The finale of the 2010-11 season. Lord Stanley's Cup will be taken out of its case and handed over to either Bruins captain Zdeno Chara or Canucks captain Henrik Sedin. It's been a bizarre but entertaining series, and no matter which team wins, it should be a classic finish.
"We are very well aware of how we've played on the road the last three games in Vancouver," Julien said. "It's hasn't been good enough and our plan is certainly to change that for Game 7. We've created ourselves another opportunity and it's up to us to take advantage of it. We've got to be hungrier."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.