Carey Price didn’t shy away from the obvious Saturday night, after his Canadiens had put themselves on the brink of elimination. As he said, “Well, you back any animal into a corner, it’s going to be desperate. I think we’re going to be a desperate hockey club coming into next game.”
That’s what the Bruins are going to expect Monday night. It’s what they have to expect.
“There should be not desperation, but urgency in all of our games that we play with, whether it’s Game 1 or Game 7,” the Bruins’ Gregory Campbell said. “We have to be an urgent and prepared team as well. Both sides will be ready to go, and we just have to make sure we’re the more prepared team.”
With the Bruins leading the Canadiens, 3-2, in their second-round series, they left for Montreal on Sunday just one win away from moving on to the Eastern Conference finals.
They played significantly better in Game 5 — the best they have played in the series — but that only goes so far.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” coach Claude Julien said. “I think you have to rely on our experience and knowing that we haven’t won this series yet. We have to bring our best game next game because they will. They will bring their best game and if we don’t bring ours, then you’re looking at a Game 7. So we can’t take those chances. We have to come out and play the best hockey we can.”
The Bruins have won the last two games of the series, taking Game 4 on a goal by Matt Fraser in a game that remained scoreless until 79 seconds into overtime, and in a controlling, well-played Game 5 that showcased how the team can play when it is playing its game.
Boston saw an uptick in its physicality, in its power play, in its success at turning chances into goals, after struggling to do that earlier in the series.
“Just forechecking and kind of eliminating their rushes, three-on-twos, things like that,” defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. “We’ve got to keep doing it. It’s something we tend to get away from it a little bit and we tend to struggle. If we keep doing it and focusing on that and really do it in the first period, kind of set the tone.”
That would help, another good start, another lead, another game like Game 5.
But they know it won’t be that easy. They’ve seen it before. The Bruins, after all, went to Montreal ahead, 3-2, in their first-round series in 2011. They lost Game 6 to the Canadiens, not playing their best, and were forced to win Game 7 back in Boston. They went on to win the Stanley Cup that year.
There was also that matter of last season’s first-round series against the Maple Leafs, in which the Bruins had a 3-1 series lead, but took it to overtime of Game 7 before closing out Toronto — again on their way to the Stanley Cup Final.
“Obviously we’re expecting another good game,” Campbell said. “Every game has been good so far and it’s been competitive and both teams have played hard. “It’s a fine line of learning from those experiences, but also turning the page because it’s a new year.
“We were in a situation last round where we were up, 3-1, and there were comparisons to the Toronto series [in 2013]. It’s something that we have to take as a new opportunity and be prepared as a team. Everybody always says that the fourth game is the toughest to win, but it’s a game we want to play our best.”
So the idea is to celebrate on the ice of the Bell Centre, to shake hands, and move on. But the Bruins will need to play more like they played in Boston Saturday night to make that happen, and far less like they played in Montreal in Games 3 and 4.
“Our biggest focus right now is to close out the series as fast as we can,” winger Reilly Smith said. “You don’t want to give a team like Montreal time to linger because anything can happen in games and their goalie’s been pretty hot. If you give them a chance to shut you out, he’ll definitely do that.
“We’re going into the Bell Centre trying to [win]. That’s definitely our main focus.”