Garden ice the place for chilling climax
RALEIGH, N.C. - So now we get the best thing there is in Boston sports: another seventh game in the Garden.
You won't be able to hear the second half of Rene Rancourt's anthem tomorrow night. The new building might feel like the old building. The rafters will rattle as the Bruins try to make some history back home in the Hub of Hockey.
The Bruins squared their steel-cage match with the Hurricanes last night, smoking Carolina in the fast lane of Tobacco Road, 4-2, at the RBC Center on the campus of North Carolina State.
"We believe in ourselves," said defenseman Zdeno Chara. "But the job is not done yet. It's very simple. We can't afford to lose another game. It's desperate hockey."
Claude Julien's skaters are attempting to do what no Bruins team has done in 20 previous tries: come back to win a series after trailing, three games to one. Milt Schmidt's Bruins couldn't do it in 1947 against the Canadiens. Bobby Orr and Friends couldn't do it against the Rangers in '73. Cam Neely and Ray Bourque couldn't make it happen in '95 against the Devils.
So it's up to Chara and Tim Thomas to boldly go where no Bruins have gone.
"From the time we fell behind, three games to one, our goal was to create Game 7," said Julien (who enjoyed one of those Bill Belichick nights in which everything he touched turned to gold). "We're there now. We need to decide what we're going to do with it."
This is an odd series. It's 3-3, but none of the games have been truly close. There was one overtime contest, but anyone who was there will tell you that Carolina dominated that one. The scores of the other five games: 4-1, 3-0, 4-0, 4-1, and last night's 4-2. NESN's Jack Edwards compared it to the 1960 World Series, which went seven games but had scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0 - all Yankee wins. The Bruins need to remember that. The Yankees outscored the Pirates, 38-3, in three victories but lost the series.
Winning a Game 6 on the road is never easy, and the Bruins' task was compounded by the disturbing events at the end of Game 5, when Hurricane Scott Walker delivered a cheap shot to Aaron Ward and was barely penalized ($2,500 fine) by NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell.
The Bruins were steamed at the way it was handled by the league and must have been doubly annoyed during the Game 6 pregame skate, when they heard the Carolina public address announcer tell fans that the Canes showed they would not be "pushed around" at the end of Game 5 in Boston. The obvious inference was Walker's sucker punch, which was interpreted locally as an honorable deed.
Keeping their heads, the Bruins got revenge with a goal in the third minute of play. Patrice Bergeron broke loose down the right side and slid the puck across the ice to former Cane Mark Recchi, who banged it home. It was Recchi's 50th career playoff goal.
They scored again four minutes later when Steve Montador blasted home a slapper from the left point.
It seemed like a good way to take the crowd out of the game, but it didn't discourage the Canes, who had multiple opportunities in the final 10 minutes of the first period. The Bruins were lucky to skate into intermission with their 2-0 lead.
Carolina's relentless attack paid off in the third minute of the second when Matt Cullen skated through traffic across the crease and flipped a backhand past Thomas.
This would have been a good time to fold, but these are not the same old Bruins. In the middle of the second, Marc Savard converted a perfect pass from Milan Lucic to put Boston back ahead by a pair. With two minutes left in the second, the Bruins sucked all the wind out of the Hurricanes when Chuck Kobasew scored one of those table-hockey goals (charging the net and banging home a pass from Bergeron on the left wing) to make it 4-1.
The locals didn't show a lot of faith in their team when this message was flashed on the big board at the start of the third:
"We have won one Game 7 and we will win another."
Swell. What a bunch of goobers. Imagine playing at your own rink and seeing a message that basically states that the game you are playing is already over.
Old friend Sergei Samsonov must not have received the in-house memo because he cut the lead to 4-2 midway through the third.
Too late for the home team.
"We've put ourselves back in a good position," said Lucic. "But we know Thursday night is going to be the toughest game of the series. We didn't panic. We didn't get nervous. Now we get another chance. At home."
Home. Seventh Heaven at the Garden. Another big night for West End merchants. A massive money-maker for the wait staff at The Fours, Johnny's on the Side, and the Ripoff Brothers Parking Lot. There's nothing quite like a seventh game at the Garden, and we haven't had one in 11 whole days.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.