Tim Thomas ventured through what sounded like a funeral procession after the Washington Capitals forced the extra frame.
“It’s terrible timing, but sometimes stuff like that happens,” the Boston Bruins goaltender said of Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying goal late in regulation. “They were apologizing to me before the overtime and I’m saying, `No, I need to try to stop it, too.’ We are all in this together. This is a shared responsibility.”
Minutes later, the Bruins shared in something that has been much more familiar than late-game letdowns: staving off elimination. Tyler Seguin scored his first goal of the playoffs a little more than three minutes into overtime for a 4-3 Bruins victory at Verizon Center on Sunday, a win that sets up a decisive Game 7.
It was the fifth time over the last two postseasons the defending Stanley Cup champ Bruins have successfully avoided elimination. Wednesday’s first-round series finale will be the fourth time Boston has found itself in a Game 7 during that same stretch.
“It helps somewhat,” said Thomas, who turned away 36 shots in Game 6. “We have had the experience, (but) everything is different. Each individual situation is different.”
Not that many would question it anyway, but the Bruins aren’t lacking in leadership or levelheadedness. Andrew Ference knocked in a rebound to put the Bruins ahead, 3-2, eight minutes into the third period only to have Ovechkin tie the game immediately after a faceoff with 4:52 left in regulation.
Then came from a contribution from a player — like Ovechkin on the opposing side — who had been largely silent until Sunday.
“I saw the goalie challenging, so I just tried to make a quick move,” said Seguin, who netted his first point of this postseason via an assist on Ference’s goal.
Seguin waited out Caps goalie Braden Holtby on a mini break set up by Nicklas Backstrom’s turnover in the neutral zone. Milan Lucic and David Krejci assisted on the play.
“I thought he was skating extremely well tonight and he used his speed,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He had a chance early in the game. To me, it was fitting for him to get that goal.”
It’s also pretty appropriate that this series is going the distance. For the first time in league history, the first six games have been decided by single-goal margins. The biggest lead of the series was two goals and that lasted all of three minutes in Game 5. There have already been three overtime games, one that went into a second OT.
“When you look at the way the series has been played, it’s been a dog fight from start to finish,” Julien said. “I think both teams are heading into Game 7 with the same kind of confidence. They’ve beaten us twice in our building, and we’ve beaten them twice here. For us, it’s time to take advantage of that home ice that we’ve fought hard all year to get and we have to make it count.”
The Bruins have 16 players on their active roster who played at least one playoff game during last season’s Stanley Cup run. That means along with their time with the Stanley Cup, those players also had a truncated offseason. Factor in the Bruins’ active roster has six players 34 years of age or older, and wear and tear could be more of an issue compared with the less-aged Caps team.
“When you are in the middle of this thing, fatigue isn’t a factor,” said Thomas, who, at 38, is 16 years older than Holtby. “The best way to approach it is not even acknowledge the fact we played so long last year or had a short offseason. Now is now.”
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg sounded as if Game 6 may have well been a fountain of youth.
“Everybody is pumped,” Seidenberg said. “We got an emotional pump after this win. I’m sure everybody will be ready to go on Wednesday.”