BOSTON - Staring down elimination in the Cup Final two years ago, the Bruins returned home from Vancouver to host Game 6 at TD Garden. On that night in mid-June 2011 they blasted three goals behind Roberto Luongo in the opening frame, chasing the Montreal native from the crease before sneaking one more past Cory Schneider to close out the period. They would force an all-or-nothing Game 7 back west with the 5-2 victory, burying the Canucks decisively two nights later to capture the Cup.
Faced with an identical situation here in 2013 - down 3-2 after a 3-1 Game 5 loss - Boston will look to repeat history when they host Chicago with the Cup in the building on Monday night.
"A desperate team is always a tough team to play against," said Brad Marchand, who scored three goals in those final two games against the Canucks, but has gone pointless in this series against the Blackhawks. "We wanted to make sure we forced a Game 7 last time and that's our focus this time."
"Right now our goal is to create a Game 7," Bruins coach Claude Julien echoed, "and to create a Game 7 you've got to win game 6. So that's our approach to it."
While his status for Game 6 is not definite, the Bruins may just have the services of do-it-all centreman Patrice Bergeron after all. Bergeron, who is tied for the team lead with nine goals in the playoffs, left Game 5 with an unknown injury but will take the pre-game warmup and is expected to play, this according to Julien on Monday morning.
"It'd be a big loss for us if he didn't play," said Marchand, who plays alongside Bergeron on a line that also includes 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr. "He's one of our best players right now. And he's had a great series, scored a few very big goals. Hopefully that's not the case, but we'll see [Monday]."
Whether he plays or not the Bruins know they'll have to find means to lock down Chicago's blistering top line, the Patrick Kane-Jonathan Toews duo sizzling with four goals and seven points in consecutive victories. Kane has scored three in that span, including a pair on "sneaky" rebounds in Game 5. "I think the biggest thing is we've just got to try to eliminate him when he's around the net, make sure you're aware of where he is," said Marchand of the 24-year-old, who mischievously pounced on a pair of loose pucks, depositing the rebounds behind Tuukka Rask.
"He's very sneaky. He's always curling around the back-side of the net and things like that. He finds a way to get open and find those loose pucks. We've just got to find a way to keep an eye on him at all times."
Kane and Toews - whom Chicago was "optimistic" about for Game 6 after the captain sat out the third period of Game 5 - alongside Bryan Bickell, have dipped and dived with speed around the Bruins, most prominently the 6-foot-9 captain Zdeno Chara, on the ice for the past eight Hawks goals against. "I don't think Z has been a bad player for us," said Julien.
"Again, you look at all the goals, and I keep saying that, just because he's on the ice doesn't mean they're his fault. I get to watch those games and dissect it, and I can't really tell a single goal that's all Z's fault. He takes a lot of heat because he's on the ice for those goals and what he means to our hockey club."
Julien did concede to what's become obvious: the Hawks are doing their absolute best to pester, tire and frustrate Chara. "It's pretty obvious that they're throwing the pucks in his corner and they want to get him to turn and tire him out," the Bruins coach observed.
Boston snuffed the life out from the Hawks in Games 2 and 3, holding them without a goal for a span that surpassed 120 minutes. Chicago would bust out for six, however, in Game 4 before adding three more in a close Game 5 victory. Stifling their attack, while taking better care of the puck, is atop the list of priorities for Game 6.
Momentum has proved generally fleeting in this series so while the Hawks hold the upper-hand with a chance to grip the Cup heading into Monday's action, the tide has the potential to turn in an instant with a Bruins victory.
"…you don't have to say much to this group," Julien said, questioned on the message he'd deliver to his team ahead of Game 6. "They understand what's happening, and they know what they need to do. I don't need to go in there and give this big speech and get these guys riled up because they know what's at stake, and we've proven it in the past, and now we have an opportunity to prove it again [Monday]."