There will be one more flight west. One more night in a Vancouver hotel. One more game.
Had the Bruins dropped Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Canucks last night at TD Garden, tomorrow probably would have been breakup day. For the final time this season, the Bruins would have gathered at their home rink, packed up their items, held exit interviews, and said their goodbyes.
Instead, they will be pursuing the greatest trophy in sports in the grandest spectacle of them all: Game 7.
“Not too many people counted on us being here right now,’’ Mark Recchi said after last night’s 5-2 win before 17,565. “It’s a great feeling. We battled real hard tonight. We came to play. It comes down to one game. This is what we dream of. When you’re a little kid playing street hockey, you’re in Game 7. We’re going to go out there. We’re going to lay it on the line just like they are. It’s going to be a pretty exciting game. We’ve got to go find a way to win a game and win a Stanley Cup. We’re going to do whatever we can.’’
The champagne that was on ice for the Canucks last night is only an afterthought. The Cup that was in place for the Canucks to hoist must now travel west to accompany both teams.
Last night, only one club could have claimed the Cup as its own. Tomorrow, because the Bruins did something good last night, they can do something great.
The day started with focus. The Bruins didn’t think about their season coming to a close. In the home dressing room, there was a quiet confidence as the Bruins tried to bundle their collective energy toward a single goal: living to see another day.
“It was very quiet in here,’’ said the usually chirpy Brad Marchand. “It was tough to figure out if it was nerves or just guys being calm and focused. It seemed like everyone was very prepared and very excited to get underway.’’
After warmups, the calm was gone. As the Bruins bosses had hoped, the mood rose another level while the players prepared for battle. The Bruins weren’t afraid of what was ahead of them. Instead, they couldn’t wait to get their job started.
So, what was quiet and poise ramped up to energy.
“Excitement, that’s for sure,’’ Michael Ryder said. “We were all pumped up. We knew that we had to come out hard, especially early in the game. I think it was pretty intense in here. Everyone was jumping around, getting ready to go. We knew what it meant. We knew the fans would be behind us. We wanted to make sure we set the tone early and got the fans into it.’’
Soon after the Bruins hit the ice, all that buildup, tension, and excitement exploded into a four-goal supernova. Marchand snapped a shot over Roberto Luongo. Milan Lucic hit a shot that dribbled between Luongo’s pads and rolled over the goal line.
Nathan Horton, his season over because of a concussion suffered in Game 3, stood in the Zamboni entrance during a television timeout at 7:27. With a smile across his face and rally towels waving in both hands, Horton gave the Garden even more juice.
“We didn’t know they were going to be doing that, showing him up there,’’ Marchand said. “For him to come in and give us that boost of energy is unbelievable. Obviously, the crowd loves it, loves him, and they’re supporting him every minute of the day. It was great to see him out there. He gave us a big energy boost.’’
That was nothing.
At 8:35, with Recchi setting a screen in front, Andrew Ference ripped a slapper that sailed past Luongo to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.
During the Final, Luongo has had more ups and downs than a yo-yo. He has posted two shutouts at home, allowing just two goals in three games at Rogers Arena.
But at the Garden, Luongo fished eight pucks out of his net in Game 3. He was pulled after giving up four goals in Game 4. Last night, after three pucks went past him — one of the dribbling manner — in less than nine minutes, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault had seen enough.
Just moments after Ference’s shot hit the back of the net, Luongo was skating toward the visiting bench for the second time in his last two visits to the Garden.
Then, after relief netminder Cory Schneider had been in goal for only 70 seconds, Ryder tipped a Ference shot into the net to give the Bruins a 4-0 lead.
“We needed to come out hard tonight,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “I thought our guys responded. We needed to come out hard the last two games before that, because we were trailing, 2-0, in the series. Our guys have responded well. Now we have to make sure we don’t get comfortable with our game. We’re willing to bring it to Vancouver with us, because that’s what it’s going to take to win.’’
Unlike their two previous stops in Boston, the Canucks pushed back. Henrik Sedin made it 4-1 at 0:22 of the third. Jannik Hansen thought he had trimmed Boston’s lead to two at 3:17 of the third, but video replay showed his shot hit the left post.
But Boston’s cushion was too large.
And now it’s come down to this. Next win is for the Cup.
“There’s no pressure,’’ Recchi said. “Go play. Go out and have fun with this. It’s what you play for and what we’ve worked hard for all year. We’re going to have a blast doing it.’’