The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals have had so many close calls through six games. So it’s no surprise that when Tyler Seguin scored the game-winner 3:17 into overtime Sunday in Game 6 at the Verizon Center that this game would be decided by a Game 7 — a feat that the Black and Gold faced three times during last year’s Cup run and won each meeting against the Montreal Canadiens (first round), Tampa Bay Lightning (Eastern Conference Finals) and Vancouver Canucks (Cup Finals), respectively.
For while each game has seen its share of questionable officiating, all six games have been decided by one goal — including three in overtime — marking the first time that feat has occured in postseason history. Couple that with some good goaltending on both ends of the ice from Braden Holtby and Tim Thomas and you have yourself a highly entertaining series.
It’s a perfect reason why this isn’t your typical 2-7 first round matchup.
“It’s been a good series,” said Andrew Ference, who scored his first of the playoffs at 11:57 of the third period to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead in Game 6. “Both teams have had good chances and both goalies have come up big on both sides. The games have all been toss-ups with either team winning.”
Going into Wednesday’s Game 7 at TD Garden, one has to give a slight edge to the Bruins based on last year’s experience. Moreover, this will be the seventh time in the last five years that they have played in the seventh and decisive game that also includes losses to the Habs in 2008, Carolina Hurricanes in 2009 and the epic collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010.
While the core from previous seasons has changed, the Bruins also feel that last year’s experience can benefit them.
“Every game is different and we seem to have guys in here who step up at the right time,” said forward Brad Marchand. “[From] the experience we gained last year winning the Cup, we know that anything can happen as long as you put your best effort on the ice and that’s what we did [in Game 6].”
The Caps have not played in a Game 7 since the first round of the 2010 postseason — the same season they won the President’s Trophy — where they blew a 3-1 series lead against the Habs and lost 2-1 against Jaroslav Halak and company.
While experience might favor the Bruins, the Caps, too, have handled adversity nicely after fighting for a playoff spot with the Buffalo Sabres during the last week of the 2011-12 season. That fighting instinct seems to have carried over for Washington with their stingy D blocking several shots, while the 22-year old Holtby continues to surprise many fans and pundits alike.
“It’s been a very hard-fought defensive battle throughout the whole series,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “So far its been a really tight battle and hopefully we’ll be on the better end in Game 7.”
Both teams have scored 15 goals through six games. Both teams have given the opposition very little to work with. And both teams have been opportunistic when it matters most.
It’s safe to say that both teams will put it all on the line back in Boston for Game 7.