WASHINGTON If Patrice Bergeron has proven anything this season its that he is as tough as they come.
The Bs center and best all-around player fought off a pair of hard-hits from Saturdays Game 5 that dinged him up at TD Garden, and made certain he was in the starting lineup for Sundays Game 6 at the Verizon Center.
Bergeron was essentially playing right wing and allowed Rich Peverley to take face-offs in place of him for the game, but he still managed an assist and 19:41 of ice time while sucking it up playoff-style. Bergerons mere presence buoyed the Bruins and helped lead them to a 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals that sets up Wednesday nights winner-take-all Game 7 at TD Garden.
Were an experienced group and we know what it takes, said Bergeron. Weve been through it before. Its not over until we get that fourth win, but that was a huge effort from us tonight.
Its pretty clear that an upper-body injury is preventing Bergeron from taking face-offs, but it also doesnt appear to be the concussion that most feared when he took heavy shots to the head from Alex Semin and Alex Ovechkin on Saturday. So Peverley won 13-of-24 draws in the victory, and both factored heavily into Bostons first goal of the game in the first period.
The Peverley high tip of an Andrew Ference shot gave the Bruins their first lead of the series heading into the first intermission, and Bergeron actually originally was credited with the goal. But he went straight to the referees and made sure that Peverley was awarded with his team-best third goal of the series.
He competed hard and hes not taking face-offs because hes not 100 to take face-offs, but hes good enough to play through this whole game. He played a real solid game, said Claude Julien. It speaks volumes with this guy. Anytime we talk about this player theres always something new that comes up but that makes him an even greater player.
I think as much as hes extremely respected in the room somehow he became even more today.
He totaled 4:49 of power play time and 1:28 on the penalty kill, and didnt appear to have any limitations other than the face-off restriction.
I was planning to play yesterday after the Game 5 loss, said Bergeron. Peverley is a great player and we were just reading off each other. I knew he was going to be taking the face-offs, so we made the best of it.
Perhaps the best evidence that Bergeron was okay: he insisted on taking one defensive zone face-off in the third period at his right wing spot when Peverley wasnt out on the ice with him.
It was on my side of the ice and Peverley wasnt out there, so, yeah, I made the call, admitted Bergeron.
The Bruins are a better hockey club when Bergeron is on the ice making the calls, and hell be doing just that in the deciding Game 7 on Wednesday night.