For the second straight postseason, the Bruins find themselves with a chance to close an opening playoff series out on the road as they lead the Sabres 3-1 heading into Game 5 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo Friday night (7 p.m. on NESN).
The Bruins have done a great job of sticking to their game plan and have pretty much followed our "three keys" to perfection in this series. Now they must do it one more time and, if successful, they will find themselves in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Here are our three keys to success for Game 5:
1. Set the tempo
The Bruins lead this series 3-1 despite allowing the first goal in every game thus far. They proved they can come back at HSBC Arena in Game 2, but with the Sabres facing elimination, their desperation level will be high. If they score first tonight, they will feed off the bedlam in their home barn even more as they try to grab a hold of anything they can to stay alive.
2. Continue to improve the power play
The Bruins were 2-for-6 on the power play on Wednesday, with the OT winner by Miroslav Satan coming on the man-advantage. The Bruins did a great job of finding the open seams, yet not hesitating too much in Game 4. Their transition game through the neutral zone was also improved as witnessed by the winning goal. The Bruins must take advantage of whatever breaks they get, and if they can keep this power play going, that could be the difference.
3. Remember 2008 and 2009
The Bruins know better than most teams in recent years how a 3-1 series lead can disappear in a hurry, as they erased 3-1 series deficits against Carolina last spring and against the Habs in 2008. Claude Julien has actually coached three teams back from 3-1, including finishing it off with the Habs in 2004 when they came back and beat the Bruins. The Bruins need to finish this team now because any glimpse of hope they give the Sabres could be huge. Remember, if the Sabres were to come back and tie the series, Game 7 would be in Buffalo.