The Boston Bruins’ defense of the 2011 Stanley Cup came to an abrupt end on April 25, 2012 at 10:23 EST. That was when Washington forward Joel Ward backhanded a puck by Tim Thomas 2:57 into the overtime of Game 7.
With the Bruins in Washington to take on the Captials Tuesday, Ward’s goal will be fresh in the minds of many Boston fans.
However, Bruins faithful are no strangers to heartbreak. Four times over the last five years, Boston has been eliminated in winner-take-all games.
The postseason that brought many Bruins fans back to the TD Garden was back in 2008. Boston trailed the top-seeded Canadiens in the opening round three games to one, and were on the ropes in Game 5. The Bruins fought back to win two straight, including the famous “This building is vibrating!” Game 6 victory.
Unfortunately, the team’s Cinderella quest ended 300 miles to the north at the Bell Centre. Game 7 was an ultimate disappointment, as the Bruins fell 5-0 behind a dazzling effort from Montreal goaltender Carey Price.
A year later, Boston bulldozed the Habs in the first round of the playoffs and were heavy favorites over Carolina. After winning Game 1, the B’s dropped three straight. Boston did battle back to tie the series at three amid some fireworks between Aaron Ward and Scott Walker, setting the stage for another dramatic finish.
Game 7 was a nailbiter, and after a late Milan Lucic goal tied the game at 2-2, it went into overtime. Public enemy No. 1 Walker silenced the TD Garden crowd when he put a rebound past Thomas to send the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Then came 2010, a memory Boston fans were forced to deal with up until they swept Philadelphia out of the playoffs a year later.
Everything was going right for the Bruins, and they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, lost in the celebration of a Game 3 win, was the injury to center David Krejci. Krejci’s absence, plus some timely Flyers goals, allowed Philadelphia to tie the series at three.
All seemed okay when Boston jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in Game 7. Philadelphia then scored four unanswered goals in what proved to be a microcosm of the series. For many Bruins fans, that loss was the most embarrassing in team history.
This embarrassment did not last very long, however. The most famous Game 7 victory came a year later, when the Bruins won their sixth Stanley Cup during a magical night in Vancouver.