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Bet on the NHLThe Vancouver Canucks were huge favorites going into Game One of the NHL Finals, and they came up big in the late third period to take the 1-0 lead over the Boston Bruins.

Raffi Torres scored the game's only goal with just 18.5 seconds left to play in regulation. For the previous 59 1/2 minutes of play, Vancouver looked visibly frustrated, as Boston's defense was strong enough to keep the Canucks from finding any easy goals.

This was the Canucks' third shutout of the postseason, and they desperately needed the strong defensive play of Roberto Luongo, who made 36 saves. Tim Thomas of the Bruins matched him until that one goal slipped past with just seconds remaining to play. Game One was truly a battle of goalies, and both teams played extremely tight defense all the way down the stretch. In the end, though, Boston let the game get away from them, and the Canucks capitalized for the one goal.

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Torres' goal was the latest goal in any regulation game in the NHL Finals history that ended with a 1-0 score. With the way the two teams played throughout, it was looking like it would go on all night. But the better-late-than-never score sealed it for Vancouver. The only other late-game goals in a 1-0 victory in the NHL Finals came in 2007 with 5:44 left on the clock, 1937 with 7:17, and 1986 with 8:50. The Canucks' goal with 0:19 is the new record by far.

Both Boston and Vancouver are playing for high stakes in this NHL Finals, both experiencing decades-long droughts. The Canucks have never won a title in 40 years of franchise history, despite making it to the NHL Finals twice, in 1982 and 1994. The Bruins fare little better, having won their last title in 1972, and then losing their last five appearances in the finals.

Based on last night's incredible defensive performance, this should be a long and exciting series. The Bruins made a couple mistakes late in the game to give it away to the Canucks, but Vancouver may not be able to count on such sloppy clutch play again. Game Two is Saturday night in Vancouver, and the Canucks will still be considered the favorites to win on their home ice.


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