BOSTON -- The Bruins became the first Stanley Cup champ to win three Game 7 appearances en route to raising the ultimate hockey hardware over their heads last June.
In each of those seven-game series the Bruins also were victorious in Game 5 an important swing game when it comes to gathering momentum and seizing control in a long series. That didnt happen this year with a 4-3 loss in Game 5 at TD Garden to the Washington Capitals, and now the Bruins are forced into winning each of their last two games in the series.
Thats hockey, right? Its not . . . theres a lot of things that happen over the course of the series that change the outcome in the end . .. that was one of them, said Tim Thomas, who finished with 28 saves in defeat. But the outcome of this series isnt over, so well see if it ends up making a difference or not.
The first challenge arrives less than 24 hours after shaking off the home playoff loss and crumbling third period effort, and will prove Bostons championship mettle all over again this season. Just like Adrienne in the Rocky movies, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had a pretty simple mantra when it comes to focusing on the do-or-die mission in the nations capital on Sunday afternoon.
Its to win. It is as simple as that, said Chara. We cant be thinking about anything else. We have to win.
There are plenty of areas where the Bruins can improve. Tim Thomas has a pedestrian .922 save percentage it ranks 11th among playoff goaltenders this season and crumbled with a pair of soft goals in the third period on Saturday afternoon. David Krejci has a total of five shots on net and one assist in five playoff games, and Tyler Seguin has gone 16 straight playoff games without a goal.
Milan Lucic has had some influence in setting the emotional edge and creating some offensive plays, but hes not nearly where he needs to be. The Bruins will need to play their best game of the series simply to get a chance to play in another Game 7 this season.
We obviously dont want to be here, but we have been here before and the experience should help, said Shawn Thornton, who was kicking himself postgame for failing to beat Mike Knuble to a loose puck on Washingtons first goal of the third period. We know we have to focus on one game and not the big picture. Were looking forward to coming back here.
The Bruins know their work is cut out for them to pull out a road playoff win with their Washington opponent poised to close out their season, but Boston has always played their best when their backs are against the wall. The Black and Gold will get another chance to prove their postseason mettle on Sunday.