Bruins and Lightning Prepare for Winner Take All Game 7 on Friday

Bruins, Lightning to play Game 7 for chance at Cup

AP Sports Writer
      BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) – The Boston Bruins thought they excised the
specter of last season's postseason collapse when they finished off
the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals this
      Yet here they are again, one round later, trying to turn back
another comeback.
      The Bruins will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the
conference finals on Friday night, with the winner earning a chance
to play the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup. But Boston could
have avoided a winner-take-all predicament if it had merely
protected a three-goal lead in Game 4; scored more than one
power-play goal a week in the playoffs; or kept Tampa Bay from
scoring, as often as not, in the first 90 seconds of the game.
      “We've got a Game 7, it's at home, and we're one game away from
the Stanley Cup finals. Why shouldn't we be excited?” coach Claude
Julien said Thursday after stepping off the team charter at Hanscom
Field outside of Boston. “Our guys are not discouraged or
disappointed. The past is the past. We've got an opportunity to win
a hockey game and get into the Stanley Cup finals.”
      The Bruins spent most of this season trying to forget what
happened in last year's playoffs, when the Flyers rallied from a
3-0 deficit to force a seventh game and then trailed 3-0 in Game 7
before winning to advance to the conference finals. Boston swept
Philadelphia this year in Round 2, but that doesn't mean Bruins
fans are ready to get comfortable when the team gets a big lead.
      In Game 4, with Boston already leading the series 2-1, the
Bruins opened up a 3-0 lead before allowing five unanswered goals.
The Bruins also led 3-2 in the series, with a 2-1 lead after one
period of Game 6 on Wednesday night, before the Lightning scored
three in a row and eventually won 5-4.
      That sent the teams back to Boston for Game 7.
      “When it all comes down to one game, I think the pressure is on
both teams,” Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said. “You shouldn't
allow pressure to get into your head. Just go out there and play
your game.”
      Although the Bruins can call upon their experience in Game 7
against Montreal in the first round, Tampa Bay is much more
familiar with elimination games. The Lightning fell behind the
Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the first round before winning three
straight to advance; Wednesday's victory over Boston made them 4-0
this season in elimination games; and goalie Dwayne Roloson is 7-0
in his career when facing elimination.
      “When we face elimination, you want to play on your best, and
that's what we want to bring all the time,” Tampa Bay defenseman
Victor Hedman said. “Come playoff time, every game is a
live-or-die moment, especially when you're facing elimination.”
      Although the teams finished the regular season with identical
46-25-11 records, good for 103 points, the Bruins have the home-ice
advantage for Game 7 because they won the Northeast Division while
the Lightning finished behind Washington in the Southeast.
      “We worked all year to have home ice, and now we have to take
advantage of it,” Bergeron said. “We can't worry about what
happened in the first six games.”
      The upstart Lightning, who began play in 1992, may have one
advantage: They have never lost in three previous Game 7s, one of
them against the Calgary Flames in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals.
Boston, an Original Six team that hasn't won the Cup since 1972, is
10-10 in Game 7s.
      “I think that's what you play for,” Lightning forward Martin
St. Louis said. “Whether it's as a kid in the driveway and
pretending to be a Game 7, those are the games you watch as a kid.
Those are the games that get your fire going, and those are the
ones you want to play in. The do-or-die games. Our back's against
the wall. You want to leave it out there.”

      (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)