People chanted obscenities and some leaped over raging bonfires as riot police moved in to try to restore order in the downtown streets strewn with garbage and filled with acrid smoke. Flames shot about 10 yards into the air off the cars and some bystanders tossed firecrackers.
The chaos was reminiscent of a similar scene that erupted in the city in 1994 following the Canucks' Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers.
Patrick Fleming, 15, said a small group took out its anger on cars in the game's dying moments, flipping over two vehicles and setting one on fire.
Two other overturned vehicles were visible nearby as orange flames erupted from an exploding car, prompting several bystanders to duck down in alarm. Fans who were trying simply to get out of the danger zone found their visibility reduced by the thick black smoke.
Som Gosh, 16, said police blocked off the area and detained a number of people.
"I think it was a few people. ... Everybody else is watching," Gosh said.
Some members of the crowd could be seen trying to hold back others. Others posed for pictures, while most wanted no part of the violence and headed in the opposite direction.
A long line of police tried to hold back the surging crowd from the blazing cars.
A hail of beer bottles rained down on giant outdoor television screens as soon as the final buzzer sounded.