BOSTON — Scoring first is the key to winning in Round 2 of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The team that has opened the scoring is 22-1 in the 23 second-round games played through Tuesday night, with the only exception being the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2-1 home win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 5.
In the four Game 7s that have been played in both rounds, the winning team struck first. Overall, teams that score first in Game 7 win 74 percent of the time (113-40).
As the Boston Bruins prepare to host the rival Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 on Wednesday night at TD Garden with a spot in the Eastern Conference finals on the line, getting the first goal, establishing their physical style of play and energizing the crowd are of the utmost importance for the B’s.
“It’s important to get that first goal, but we’re not going to let ourselves get down, we’re going to make sure we continue to fight as much as we can,” Bruins forward Daniel Paille, who opened the scoring in Boston’s 5-3 win in Game 2, said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “If a lead is there, you want to continue to push and not hold back. If it happens to go the other way around, we can’t change too much, but maybe be a little more (physical).”
The Bruins are confident they can erase just about any deficit, and we’ve seen that in this series with their dramatic third-period comeback for a win in Game 2. But that task is incredibly difficult in a Game 7, especially against a quality opponent such as the Canadiens.
“I’m sure a lot of people at the end of the game had doubts in terms of coming back, but anything can happen, especially when you don’t give up,” Paille said of last year’s historic Game 7 comeback win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1. “We definitely don’t want to do that this year. We want to maintain a better game.”
The Bruins know what kind of intensity and nervousness to expect when the puck drops Wednesday night. They have a combined 88 games of Game 7 experience, which is 50 more than the Canadiens. Boston also has played in a Game 7 in seven straight postseasons (including 2014), the longest streak in NHL playoff history.
“In Game 7s, experience is nice, but it can only go so far,” Paille said. “You kind of learn to stay calm in crucial situations and not get too frustrated. In that way, it’s a positive.”
Playing at home certainly gives the Bruins an advantage. Boston is 3-1 in Game 7s played at TD Garden since the start of the 2011 playoffs, and it scored first in each of those wins. The Bruins are 4-1-1 at home in this postseason, and they scored first in all of those victories and trailed first in each loss.
The Canadiens scored less than four minutes into Game 6 at Bell Centre, and that goal energized the crowd, elevated the team’s confidence and deflated the Bruins. That’s the kind of impact an early goal on home ice can have in the playoffs, which is why it’s critical that Boston opens the scoring in Game 7.
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