BOSTON, MA– The Boston Bruins will be up against the ultimate test of character in the most dire of situations on Sunday afternoon. Facing the threat of elimination after a 4-3 defeat in Saturday’s game five, they’ve run out of room for mistakes.
Troy Brouwer’s tie-breaking second tally of the series came at the most inopportune time for the B’s, with just a minute and twenty-seven seconds left on the third period clock. The collective life was completely sucked out of a raucous TD Garden when Benoit Pouliot was banished to the penalty box for what head coach Claude Julien called a “very weak call” of slashing. It wouldn’t be long after that the former-Chicago Blackhawk would streak down the right side wing and beat Tim Thomas with a glove-side wrist shot.
The Bruins had mounted not one but two comebacks prior to Brouwer’s late marker, erasing both a 2-0 and a 3-2 deficit. It began right around the mid-point of the game when Washington would be the first to find the twine.
At the 11:16 mark of the second period the Capitals would take advantage of a befallen Joe Corvo and pin the B’s into their own defensive zone. After a lengthy offensive sequence it would be game four hero Alexander Semin who would push home a rebound to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.
Just over three minutes later, Washington would double their lead after a wrist shot from gritty third line pivot Jay Beagle deflected off the stick of Boston blueliner Johnny Boychuk and past Tim Thomas to make it 2-0 in favor of the visitors.
It was at the end of the period that a two-goal outburst in a matter of only twenty-eight seconds by the Bruins would even the score at two. First it was German defenseman Dennis Seidenberg who would snap a wrist shot past Capitals’ rookie goaltender Braden Holtby to cut the Washington lead in half. On the very next shift Brad Marchand would poke a rebound through Holtby’s five hole to bring the score to a tie.
“I jumped by their forward and Looch (Milan Lucic) made a great pass to the outside and all I was trying to do was get the puck on net and somehow it found the back of the net.” – Dennis Seidenberg
The B’s would face even more adversity after former-Bruin Mike Knuble would corral a Joel Ward rebound and slide it into the Boston net for a 3-2 Washington lead just three minutes into the third period. After a stretch of fourteen consecutive failed power-play attempts, the B’s would finally break through when Johnny Boychuk released a rocket slapshot that blistered right past Holtby and into the Capitals’ net.
Boston would swarm the Washington end for the better part of what was left in the third frame, but it would be the Caps who would come out on top after scoring on a power-play that many felt should not been granted in the first place.
“Tough call. I will leave it to you guys, but it was a tough call to make at 2:15 in the game. It is a grind out there. Sometimes you get the calls and sometimes you don’t. To call that at the end it is disappointing but there is nothing you can do about it.” – Benoit Pouliot
– The one thing that the B’s have going for them is the simple fact that they’ve been here before. While they didn’t necessarily face an elimination game six on road ice, they did confront (and overcome) numerous occasions in which they were in a must-win situation. Game three in Montreal, game three against Vancouver and game five against the Lighting were all situations in which the Bruins were in desperate need of a victory and were able to come through.
If they’re not prepared, they could become the second consecutive Stanley Cup champion to lose in the first round of their title defense.
“It’s do or die for us, and we have to make sure we leave it all out there and try to force game seven. But we’re in their rink. They’re going to be coming out hard, so we got to be prepared.” – Brad Marchand
“It’s good to know that we’ve been in tough spots before and responded well. Having said that, we got to do that. You got to bring it and do it. It isn’t, it’s not going to be for granted that we’re going to do it. It’s up to us in this room.” — Tim Thomas
It’s certainly an unfavorable situation, but if the 2011 Bruins taught us anything, it’s that you can never count out the Black and Gold.
“We may be in trouble, but we’re not dead.” – Claude Julien
Ben’s Three Stars:
2) Troy Brouwer (1 Goal)
3) Mike Knuble (1 Goal)
Series: Washington Leads 3-2
Next Game: Sunday April 22, 2012. 3:00 PM. Verizon Center, Washington, DC.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.