They will face elimination Sunday in Washington when they face the Capitals in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal down three games to two after dropping a 4-3 decision Saturday at the Garden.
To continue their quest to defend the Stanley Cup they battled so hard to earn last spring, the Bruins will need to go the full seven games against the Capitals. That’s nothing new. They were the first team ever to win three Game 7s in one postseason last year en route to their first championship in 39 years.
"Obviously, we don't want to be here, but we have been here before, and the experience should help,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "We know we have to focus on one game, not the big picture, so we can force coming back here."
To get back to Boston for Game 7, the Bruins will have to do something different from last year. In those three series that went seven games last spring, the Bruins didn't face elimination until Game 7 in two of them, leading Montreal and Tampa Bay 3-2 before falling in the sixth game, then pulling it out dramatically in Game 7.
The Bruins did trail 3-2 against the Canucks in the Cup Final, but they came home for Game 6. After rolling to a 5-2 win in that game, Boston then won the title back in Vancouver in the decisive seventh game.
Facing elimination on the road before Game 7 will be a new experience for the Bruins, but the tight situations they survived last year still give them confidence they can wriggle out of this one as well.
"I hope we can rely on the experience from last year," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "We went through it last year. This is a different year, but we have that in our bag that we can rely on the way we did it last year, and hopefully we can pull it off again and just play a strong game from the beginning."
The Bruins won't get much time to shake off Saturday's defeat, with Game 6 less than 24 hours later in Washington, but that may be just as well, as a quick return to action may be for the best. That is something they did experience last year, when they lost Game 6 of the opening round in Montreal and returned home to win Game 7 in overtime at the Garden the very next day.
"It doesn't matter, because whether it's two days or the next day, the series is still 3-2 for them, so we might as well get right back on our horse and go at it," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We're a group that, like I said, has experience in those situations, and now's the time to show it."
The experience and confidence gained from last year's Cup run was shown in the determination in the Bruins locker room after Saturday's loss. The focus was already on Sunday's rematch, the businesslike approach unwavering from the top down.
"We don't hang our heads," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "We just have to focus on tomorrow's game. That is the biggest game of the season."
A victory Sunday is the only way to get the opportunity to play in even bigger games this spring.
"We're maybe in trouble, but we're not dead," Julien said. "And we're certainly going to make tomorrow a game that's going to create a Game 7 for us."
And a Game 7 back on home ice is certainly a familiar situation the Bruins would be happy to experience once again.
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