Too close for comfort
Team is expecting a battle in Game 7
Every game has been decided by a goal.
In five of the six games, the winning goal has come in the last two minutes.
Three of those games went to overtime.
In a series tighter than any other in Bruins history, it’s almost fitting it comes down to Game 7.
And even though the Bruins’ recent Game 7 history has been magical - they were the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s in last year’s Stanley Cup run - they are expecting a fight to the end.
“Those games are always tough to win,’’ said captain Zdeno Chara, who was sporting a cut on the bridge of his nose thanks to a high stick by the Capitals’ Alexander Ovechkin Sunday (Ovechkin was penalized four minutes). “Everything can go right and everything can go wrong in those games. You’ve just got to make sure everything you do is maximized to almost perfection because that’s the game that decides either you play for another day or you’re done.’’
This will be the Bruins’ fifth Game 7 in their last six playoff series. They are 12-10 when the series goes the distance, while the Capitals are 2-7.
This series, however, has been particularly nerve-creasing because of the slim margin for error.
When Tyler Seguin punched in Sunday’s game-winner, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he made an effort not to explode with joy.
“Although I’m excited, I try to look calm,’’ Julien said. “I think that’s the main thing here is, you know, you kind of regroup, go into the room.
“For me, it’s - how do I keep our team focused and enjoying what they just accomplished but not let it slip to the point where you lose focus of what you have to do next? All we did was tie the series. We didn’t win it. There’s still another game to be played.
“Before we can be happy with this, we’ve got to make sure we take care of Game 7. So, it’s exciting because it was either that or we’d be here today packing our bags and going home and I don’t think anybody’s ready for that right now.’’
Picking up pace
After getting little production from the top lines in the first four games, the players the Bruins count on for scoring have come alive.
With the winning goal and an assist Sunday, Seguin posted his third career multipoint playoff game.
Rich Peverley has racked up three goals and two assists in the past four games.
David Krejci and Milan Lucic have combined for 6 points in the past two games.
“I think if you look at the last two games, it’s true,’’ Julien said. “Some of those guys started producing and helping us out. So our secondary scoring has kept us in this series and allowed us to move forward. And now it’s up to those guys to take over, and they have.
“Our top two line guys have really stepped up and that’s made a big difference.’’
The Bruins needed room for Jordan Caron on the active roster, so Shawn Thornton was scratched for Game 6.
Thornton had played all five games in the series with a strong effort in Game 5, but Julien was reluctant to say the reason he sat Thornton.
“Well, it certainly wasn’t related to play,’’ Julien said. “It was related to a decision I had to make just before the game. [It’s] hard for me to give you that reason right now because it would probably open up a can of worms, so I’m going to leave it at that. It’s certainly not because of Thornton’s play. It’s because of necessity.’’
Keeping the faith
After Tim Thomas gave up four goals in Game 5, Julien said he could tell his goaltender was frustrated. But it didn’t rattle Julien’s confidence in Thomas.
“The minute I saw that, I just told him to relax and that tomorrow’s another day,’’ Julien said. “When you know this goaltender because you’ve had him for such a long time, you know his character and you know how he is.’’
When Thomas stopped 36 of 39 shots the next game, it didn’t surprise Julien.
“To me, I just had that great feeling - I’m not going to say I had no doubt - but I had a real great feeling that he was going to come out and play a real big game for us because that’s how Timmy is. If I didn’t have that feeling, maybe I’d have to think about, do I put in another goaltender, but when you know him as well as I do, right now there’s no doubt.’’
Adam McQuaid (eye/head), who didn’t travel with the team to Washington, hasn’t shown much progress, Julien said. The coach said defenseman Joe Corvo, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 5, was fine . . . Jerry Toppazzini, who played 11 seasons with the Bruins (1952-64), died Saturday. He was 80. In the 1957-58 season, Toppazzini scored a then-record seven shorthanded goals.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.