But the end result was a disappointing loss just the same.
Game 5 against the Blackhawks wasn't the run-and-gun, high-scoring affair that defined Game 4 in Boston. Saturday night's matchup was a grinding, low scoring battle, but the Bruins could not prevail, losing 3-1 to a rejuvenated Chicago team that is now just one win away from taking the Stanley Cup home with them Monday night.
If the Bruins are to win the final two games and take the Cup, the same path they took to win it all in 2011, they may have to do it without star center Patrice Bergeron who left the game, and eventually the building, with an injury suffered during the first period when he took himself off the ice.
Bergeron was spotted on the Bruins bench, bending over repeatedly and played for only 0:49 in the second period before leaving the United Center by ambulance at the beginning of the third.
Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked about the Bergeron injury, but did not shed any light on the situation after the game.
"I think there's no concern until you get an update," Julien said. "As far as we're concerned, he's just getting evaluated right now. Not much I can say on his situation… It's just an injury that wasn't able to let him finish the game. He may be in next game. I'm not going there."
According to a tweet by Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet Canada, Bergeron may have a spleen issue.
“It was a loss,” center David Krejci said regarding Bergeron leaving the game. “You miss your best faceoff man and one of your best players. I feel we had some pretty decent chances, but I believe with Bergy in the lineup we would’ve got that second goal. I think we were pretty close a couple times."
Bruins center Carl Soderberg saw his first action of the postseason, being inserted into the Game 5 lineup as the No. 4 left wing. After the Bergeron injury, Soderberg found himself promoted to the second line, centering for Brad Marchand and Jaromir Jagr.
“He showed me enough to be able to move into Bergy’s spot,” said the Bruins coach. “I thought he played well. Although there wasn’t the chemistry that you see with that line usually because it’s his first time, I’m certainly not disappointed in the way he played tonight.”
Soderberg could find himself back on the ice with Marchand and Jagr in Game 6 if Bergeron is unable to return.
“It’s just hockey,” Soderberg said after playing in his first NHL postseason game. “I know that game. So I felt comfortable.”
Krejci, who struggled to win face-offs in Game 5, talked about physically punishing series.
“It’s not just this series. It’s also the series before. Guys are banged up,” Krejci said. “It’s been a short season. Forty-eight games, but no break. We basically played every other day. At the end of the season, it’s catching up to you. You can see guys have been struggling a little bit. Once you’re in the Final, you just try to leave everything on the ice. There’s nothing to save energy for.”
The Blackhawks top line of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Bryan Bickell was trouble for the Bruins all night, with the slippery Kane picking up two goals in the first two periods.
“He’s very good at finding those quiet areas and sliding into the right spots,” Julien said of Kane. “That’s why he’s a good player and scores a lot of goals.”
Zdeno Chara got the Bruins on the scoreboard in the third period to make it a 2-1 game, hammering home a shot that looked like it could have gone through the back of the net.
“Once we got that first goal, you noticed that the game started to change,” Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “We started to force them. We did a good job. We had to bury that second one to tie it up.”
In the second period, Boychuk leveled Jonathan Toews, taking the Blackhawks star out for the final period with an upper body injury.
Tuukka Rask was solid in net for Boston, stopping 29 shots Saturday and avoiding a repeat performance that saw him give up six goals on 47 shots in Game 4.
“We got to go home and it’s a must-win,’’ Rask said. “Good thing we’re at home. So, we’ll focus on Monday and then we’ve got to play a really solid 60-minute effort in order to have a chance.’’
Dave Bolland scored an empty-netter with 14 seconds left to seal the deal for Chicago.
Julien was asked about heading into a must-win Game 6 Monday night.
"Well, it's pretty obvious, it's do or die," Julien said. "We've been there before, and we've done well in that situation. So we've got to, again, win the next game. Right now our goal is to create a Game 7, and to create a Game 7 you've got to win Game 6. So that's our approach to it. We've been good at home, and we need to be good at home obviously next game. It's as simple as that. Again, there is no panic. You're not going to push us away that easily. We're a committed group, and we plan on bouncing back."
The Stanley Cup will be at the TD Garden for Game 6 Monday night. The Bruins hope the Cup doesn't see any ice time until Wednesday back in Chicago.
“We’re going to have some new bodies and new lines on Monday," Rask said after the game. "And everybody needs to play 110 percent and leave their heart out on the ice.’’