WASHINGTON DC Things werent trending all that positively for the Bruins headed into the third period.
The score was tied at 2-2, of course and the Bruins were still hanging with the Washington Capitals while their Verizon Center home was rocking. The Caps had just outshot the Bruins by a 15-5 margin in the middle period and the Bs had frittered away a four-minute power play created when Alex Ovechkin gashed Zdeno Chara in the forehead with a high stick.
In an elimination game where Bostons playoff lives hung in the balance, things probably could have been moving in a more positive fashion. But thats when the Bruins hunkered down, tapped into their previous Stanley Cup-winning experience when their collective backs were against the wall and started treating things on the ice like it was go time for the reigning champs.
It certainly keeps your heart rate down, said a smiling Andrew Ference after he potted a pivotal third period rebound goal that allowed things to go to overtime. Thats probably the biggest thing with playing in a lot of pressure situations and playoff games. Its hard to play in them when your heart beat doesnt slow down and youre sweating twice as much.
While Ference brings 105 games of NHL playoff experience to the table and certainly isnt fazed by big game situations or elimination scenarios -- and even tosses the occasional unintentional bird out there at a particularly relentless crowd even relative newcomers to the postseason way of life can feel the difference. Gregory Campbell had never been to the playoffs before logging his 25 games of experience with the Bruins en route to the Stanley Cup last year. But he more than made up for it with a career full of experiences in last years sprint to the Cup, and recognized the quiet determination running their locker room headed into Sundays third period and overtime sessions.
The Bruins didnt know whether they were going to win or lose, but they werent going to blink when it mattered. Ference scored his goal to give the Bruins their go-ahead chance in the third period, and the Bs refused to fold when Alex Ovechkin tied it back up with a missile off an offensive zone face-off.
Its huge. For teams to win you always hear people resort to the face that we have experience. Fortunately we have a team-full of experienced players right now, said Campbell. Its not a guarantee, but it certainly is a huge help for us to have been through so many things during the playoffs: Game 7s or being down in series.
The playoffs are a roller coaster of emotions and were just riding the wave. Not only has the series been up and down, but every game has been up and down. Its been back-and-forth, and the key to it all is to remain calm.
That calmness was coming through loud and clear as the Bruins outshot the Caps 3-1 in the opening minutes of overtime, and they were simply looking for their first opening to force a Game 7 back in Boston. Seguin supplied that chance with a calm, poised, confident move setting up the overtime score that personified the champions swagger heading into the extra session.
The best part about Bostons heart of a champion coming to the forefront: the Bruins should have a distinct advantage on Wednesday night at TD Garden after taking home three Game 7 scenarios last year.
It comes into a factor if you use it the right way. The same goes for Game 7, said Ference. Maybe we can draw on some of that experience and ride that line of excitement and keeping your wits about you.