Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, left, and Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas are seen during their individual team hockey practices in Vancouver on June 3, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
VANCOUVER - They've got them right where they want them.
Despite three maulings in Boston, Vancouver Canucks fans were keeping the faith post-game Monday night that their team would lure bears into their trap back on home turf.
The team was humbled 5-2 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final with the Bruins stacking up four back-to-back goals in the first period.
"We're waiting to win on home ice, Canucks are not this bad," said Tyler Wright, 17, from Richmond, B.C. "We're making (Boston) look good and feel happy—making them think they have a chance."
"Home's where it's at," added her friend Taylor Hutzcal, 20.
As twilight fell and fans streamed away from giant TV-viewing areas in the downtown core leaving just their trash, high fives were still being slapped and cheers of "Game 7" rang out as the new mantra.
"It's just a little setback. You have to know how to lose so you can win big," said Dean "Daddio" Donnelly, who was sporting a fluffy rock star wig and flag cape to match the garb of his two young sons.
"You've got to stay positive if you want to win," added 10-year-old Ethan, waving shiny green pom-poms.
The smiles on some departing fans' mouths were an about-face from the sullen mood that permeated after previous losses and booze-fuelled party that lasted long into the night Friday. Beachballs were still bouncing and teenage girls wearing blue, white and green striped face paint still mugged for cameras as the clock counted down.
It appeared the crowd's collective mind had already decided the last and final game would be the clincher.
"It hurts to be losing Game 6 like that, but we want to win it when it's in Vancouver," said 29-year-old Russ Gardiner, from Langley, B.C. "Bring the Stanley Cup here, let's run it up and down the streets, let's hoot and holler.
"It's going to be mass chaos."
Const. Jana McGuinness said the crowds were lighter Monday than the previous game, when officers poured out almost 3,000 bottles of liquor. She said the early closure of provincial liquor stores had a positive impact.
"People did start leaving a little bit earlier, they left between periods. The outbound trains apparently were quite full at the end of the game," she told reporters after it was over.
"But we're expecting (crowds) will grow again for Wednesday's deciding game."
At least a few fans were taking the loss hard.
"(I'm) pretty disappointed, pretty disgusted," said Jas Deol, who was discussing the game's finer points with friends on Granville Street. "We thought we'd win this one and they let us down."
Looking resigned, Joe Grube, 52, and his Hungarian Mountain dog were both sporting first-generation Canucks jerseys and leaning against an old Buick dressed in dozens of team flags.
"I'm feeling like a normal Canuck fan, this is just the way it is," said Grube, who's been following the team for 35 years.
"Whether they win or lose, I'm going to sue for the pain and suffering I've had," he joked.
Puck drops at 5 p.m. for Game 7 in Rogers Arena.