Bruins remain confident despite setback
Once again, the Bruins have left themselves no margin for error. But they also have no doubts they will still find a way to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 21 years.
They had two chances to close this Eastern Conference final out against the Lightning. Now they have just one after Tampa Bay held on for a 5-4 victory Wednesday night in Game 6 at the St. Pete Times Forum, forcing a decisive Game 7 back in Boston on Friday.
"Right now it's tough," said Bruins center David Krejci, who scored three of Boston's four goals. "It's frustrating, obviously. But that's what you work all season for, to get home-ice advantage, and we have it — Game 7 in our building in front of our fans. It's going to be exciting. We're still one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals."
The Bruins have already been through this once. They took a 3-2 series lead into Montreal for Game 6 of their opening-round series, only to fall 2-1 when the Canadiens scored a pair of 5-on-3 goals. Special teams were the difference Wednesday as well, with Tampa Bay striking on each of its first three power plays.
The Bruins rebounded from that loss in Montreal to beat the Habs in overtime in Game 7 at the Garden, and they're fully expecting to be able to repeat that scenario against the Lightning.
"I think that's one of the key things that if you can get home-ice advantage this time of year, you need to take advantage of it," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "And we did against Montreal, and now we need to do the same thing against Tampa.
"And I think we had a lot of pressure, not just because it was Montreal, it was also the first round, and we needed to get through it," Julien added. "And we did that. So I think our guys are going to be fine for Game 7. I know our guys will be ready and positive, and our job is to make it happen."
The Bruins are counting on using that experience, and the support of the Garden crowd, to their benefit on Friday.
"I think everybody in this locker room feels confident," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "We have a lot of veteran leadership in this room. Guys know how to handle the pressure and how to approach Game 7s, and I think everybody's going to do that in this game."
Of course, the Lightning have a little experience in Game 7s themselves. They rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in the first round against the Penguins and won Game 7 on the road in Pittsburgh.
"They had a Game 7 against Pittsburgh, too, and they were able to win that, too, so both teams have had success in Game 7s," forward Milan Lucic said. "But you fight all year to get yourself up in the standings to get home-ice advantage for Game 7. We were able to use that to our advantage last time, and hopefully we can do the same [on Friday]."
If they don't, they will certainly regret letting Wednesday's game slip away from them.
"It's frustrating," Krejci said. "You dream about it as a little kid, to be in the Final and have a chance to raise the Cup. We came really close today, and we don't want to blow it. We were coming and coming. It wasn't enough, but we still have one more chance and if we play the way we finished the game, we're going to be sitting pretty good.
"It's going to be a new game," Krejci added. "We have to start from zero and just go get it. This is it. This is a chance we might not get again. Go get it, fight for it. It's there for us. We just have to go get it. They're not going to give it to us. We have to go get it."
After seeing Tampa Bay summon the kind of effort needed to stave off elimination Wednesday, the Bruins certainly know it won't be easy to keep their Cup dreams alive.
"They're a team that doesn't give up and doesn't quit," Lucic said. "Neither do we. And it all comes down to this one last game to move on."