CHICAGO -- The frustration of the Bruins' current situation is real and palpable, embodied equally by strikingly opposite emotions: Milan Lucic splintering his stick against the goal post in a justified rage in the final seconds, and the hushed tones in a nearly empty locker room moments later.
But if there's solace to be found in the aftermath of the Bruins' 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks in Game 5 Saturday night, a defeat that leaves them a single loss shy of the end of a season and the dream of another championship, it is probably this:
The Bruins, this core, has a knack for overcoming various, mounting and sometimes self-inflicted degrees of difficulty. They did it so improbably already this postseason, of course, rallying from a three-goal deficit in the third period of Game 7 against the Maple Leafs just to escape first round.
And they set the precedent two years ago en route to their first Stanley Cup since the cherished days of yore and Orr, coming back from a three-games-to-two deficit against the Vancouver Canucks, the same post-Game 5 situation they face now.
"It's do or die. We've been there before, and we've done well in that situation,'' said coach Claude Julien afterward. "Our goal is to create Game 7, and to create 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 next game. It's as simple as that.
If only it were. The trends certainly aren't pointing in their direction. The crowd at the United Center roars with anticipation every time Patrick Kane has the puck and a sliver of space.
In the last two games, since being reunited with Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell, he has rewarded that anticipation with breathtaking results. Kane scored twice Saturday, giving him three goals in the past two games and seven in the last seven dating back to his hat trick in the clincher in the Western Conference Finals.
"Sometimes you catch some breaks,'' said Kane, who scored his first goal when he pounced on a loose puck after a Johnny Oduya shot shattered Dennis Seidenberg's stick. "I think I was in the right spot at the right time twice tonight. "Everyone wants to be that guy in big-time games, and I've been lucky enough to step up.''
Kane's emergence has come with an equal and opposite reaction for the Bruins. Captain Zdeno Chara has now been on the ice for eight of the Blackhawks' last nine goals -- five in Game 4, and three, including Dave Bolland's empty-netter with 13.6 seconds left, Saturday night.
"It's not normal,'' said Chara afterward.
Chara was actually on the ice for all four goals -- it was his rocket from the shot that got the Bruins on the board with 3:40 remaining to play, cutting the lead in half at 2-1.
But the Bruins could not get the equalizer, with Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (24 saves) up to the task after enduring chatter since Wednesday about his alleged weak glove-hand.
"I'm not really listening to that,'' said Crawford. "I have a job to do. Whatever is being said doesn't really affect what I have to do on the ice.''
Crawford's job may have been made easier by a glaring absence in the Boston lineup. Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins' best forward, a player whose skills and responsibilities cannot be replaced by just one player, played just 49 seconds in the second period and not a shift in the third.
His injury was undisclosed, but the news that accompanied his absence was troubling -- he departed for the hospital before the game was through.
"You guys, I'm not going there,'' Julien said when asked for specifics about Bergeron's injury. "So anything else but injury [questions] here. I'll update you when I have an update. There's nothing more. We can ask a million questions. I don't have any more information than probably you guys do right now.''
If Bergeron can't go in Game 6, the degree of difficulty will be greater than it has ever been, especially if Toews, who didn't play in the third period after taking a hellacious hit from Johnny Boychuk, is ready for the Blackhawks.
Perhaps some optimism can be found in the flashbacks to two years ago. You remember the situation: The Bruins were down 3-2 to the Canucks after losing Game 5, 1-0, on a Maxim Lapierre goal.
But in Game 6, back on home ice, the Bruins killed all suspense early, deflating Roberto Luongo's tires with three goals in the first 8:35 en route to a 5-2 win.
In Game 7 ... well, you know. You have the DVD. Probably the t-shirt, too.
They been here and done it, and it's worth noting that the Game 5 loser has gone on to win the Cup in four of the last six years.
"There is no panic,'' said Julien. "You're not going to push us away that easily. We're a committed group, and we plan on bouncing back.''
The question is whether the Bruins have the magic to bounce back again against a tremendous Chicago team.
If Bergeron is out -- and perhaps even if he is not -- it might rank as their most challenging escape yet.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.