VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Boston forward Patrice Bergeron wasn’t surprised how quickly the Stanley Cup finals turned nasty, but he was shocked to feel Canucks counterpart Alex Burrows chomp down on the tip of his finger.
Burrows denied it, but could still face discipline from the NH
L after replays appeared to show him bite Bergeron’s finger during a melee at the end of the first period of Vancouver’s 1-0 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night.
“I don’t mind rough play and scrums at the end, as long as it’s just pushing and shoving and all that,” Bergeron said. “But biting? I mean come on.”
In a game with an unexpected amount of edge between teams that meet once a season, Burrows and Bergeron were in the middle of a big scrum behind the Boston net at the end of the first period. That’s when Bergeron says Burrows bit down as he reached over a linesman to put his glove in Burrows’ face.
“Oh yeah, he did. He cut me a little bit on my finger,” said Bergeron, whose right index finger was wrapped in a small bandage. “One of his teeth caught under my nail. We just disinfected it and I’m going to take some antibiotics just to make sure. Obviously, it’s not that bad but I don’t want to take any risks.”
Bergeron, who played mostly against the Canucks’ top line, went straight to the referees after holding up his injured finger.
“They didn’t see it,” Bergeron said. “We were speaking French, me and (Burrows), and I told him, ‘Why did you do that?’ That linesmen speaks French, and his explanation was he said that I put my finger in his mouth and he had to do it. I’ll leave it at that, but I’m sure the league is going to look at it.”
Burrows, who received a double minor for roughing — Bergeron only got one minor penalty for roughing — denied biting Bergeron.
“I don’t think so,” Burrows said. “He had his fingers in my mouth, but I don’t think I bit him. He put his hand up and put it in my face and his fingers in my mouth and that’s what happened.”
Asked if he expected to be suspended, Burrows glared and said, “next question.”
The Canucks also lost defenseman Dan Hamhuis with an apparent leg injury early in the second period. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said after the game Hamhuis is day-to-day, but didn’t give specifics of the injury.
The NHL’s history on biting incidents includes former Canucks agitator Jarkko Ruutu, then with Ottawa, for two games for clamping down on Buffalo’s Andrew Peters in January 2009.
Bruins forward Marc Savard, who isn’t playing in this series because of a concussion, also got one game after biting Toronto forward Darcy Tucker in 2003, but Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell escaped a suspension early last season because of lack of evidence on an alleged bite of Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang after both players fell to the ice in a scrum.
“If that’s the case, it’s a classless move,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “Not something players should be doing at this level anyway.”
Burrows, once known as a yappy agitator, has refined his role on the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, increasing his scoring and cutting down on his penalty minutes. He had seven goals and 14 points in the playoffs — fourth on the Canucks in scoring — and only six penalty minutes going into Game 1.
“We were battling, and obviously had a little exchange there,” Burrows said. “I’m not going to say too much about it. Obviously, I got four minutes on the play and we killed it off.”
Mike Murphy, the NHL’s Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, will handle any supplemental discipline because Colin Campbell, who before the game resigned his position as chief disciplinarian for next season, doesn’t deal with any Bruins games because his son, Gregory Campbell, plays for Boston.
Hamhuis left four minutes into the second period after throwing a low hit that sent Boston forward Milan Lucic head over heels in the air. Hamhuis dropped immediately to the ice after appearing to take Lucic’s knee in the midsection, and took a couple of shots from Bruins forward David Krejci, who was penalized for cross-checking, as a scrum broke out around him.
Hamhuis, who anchors Vancouver’s shutdown pairing with Kevin Bieksa, was hunched over as he skated to the bench, and hobbled to the locker room after crawling over the bench. Hamhuis has a goal and five assists and is plus-5 while averaging almost 26 minutes of ice time — most against the opposition’s top forwards — during Vancouver’s first run to the Cup final in 17 years.
“Going down to five D midway through the second, with the intensity that was out there, was obviously taxing on our group,” Vigneault said. “I thought the five guys that handled the workload did a real good job of sharing the time. I thought our best period was our third period. We were down to five D at that time.”
As for the nastiness, Vigneault wasn’t surprised.
“With what’s at stake, I expect both teams to want it real bad,” he said.