The anticipation of the Bruins-Red Wings first round series is growing in “The Hub” and “Hockeytown” as the two teams make final preparations before Game 1 Friday night at the TD Garden. So what better way to grow that anticipation than a countdown of the best first round games for the Boston Bruins in this week’s Throwback Thursday top 10.
10. Game 5, Bruins-Hurricanes, April, 1999
A year after a heartbreaking first round exit to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Washington Capitals, the Bruins went into the playoffs the next year with some good momentum. Their opponent were the Carolina Hurricanes, who finished first in the inaugural season of the Southeast Division.
With the series tied at 2-2 at the Greensboro Coliseum, the Bruins and Canes were looking to get the momentum on their side in a pivotal Game 5. Appropriately enough the momentum of this series would be decided in double overtime where Anson Carter scored the game-winner and put the B’s on the brink. The Black and Gold returned home to the
TD Garden FleetCenter to finish the series in Game 6 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in five years.
9. Game 6, Bruins-Canadiens, April, 1994
As the league expanded to the sun belt, the divisional playoff format was scrapped with the eight-team format that existed for nearly 20 years before the wild card system took its place this season.
Still, the Bruins and the defending Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens found a way to meet in round one as the teams finished fourth and fifth in the Eastern Conference, respectively. Even with Patrick Roy stopping 60 shots in the Habs Game 5 win, the Black and Gold found a way to get a gritty 3-2 win at the Montreal Forum forcing a Game 7 back at the Boston Garden, where the B’s knocked off the defending champs.
8. Game 7, Bruins-Habs, April, 1971
With Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins fresh off their Stanley Cup win, The Hub had plenty of buzz after the record breaking 1970-71 season. But Ken Dryden had other ideas.
Dryden was a late season call up, but he started his first chapter after a stellar series capped off as the Habs won 4-2 in Game 7 in the shocking upset. Dryden averaged 41 saves per game and stymied the Bruins throughout the seven-game series.
7. Game 4, Bruins-Habs, April, 2004
It was a highlight that Habs fans would love to forget and a last good highlight for Bruins fans prior to the 2004-05 Lockout, which resulted in a cancelled season.
Alex Kovalev tried to sell a hand injury in double overtime, but in the end he looked like a deer in headlights after colliding with Sheldon Souray at center ice. That set up Glen Murray, who beat Bruins killer Jose Theodore on the breakaway to give the Black and Gold a 4-3 double overtime win and a 3-1 series lead.
6. Game 4, Bruins-Sabres, April, 2010
Fresh off two straight wins over the Northeast Division champion Sabres, Tuukka Rask and the Bruins were looking to take a commanding three games to one series lead. Rask and Miller matched each other save for save, but Tuukka and company had the last laugh as ex-Sabre and late season signing Miroslav Satan delivered the dagger in double overtime to give the B’s a thrilling Game 4 victory.
5. Game 5, Bruins-Habs, April, 2011
The Bruins dropped the first two games of this first round series at the TD Garden. But the next two games saw the Bruins take control of the series thanks to the stellar play of Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley and the Chris Kelly (and his infamous cage on his helmet) on the third line, and Tim Thomas being, well, Tim Thomas.
Enter Game 5 where the Bruins and Habs are looking to take control of the series. In an exciting back and forth contest, Nathan Horton had the last laugh with his double overtime winner to give the B’s a 3-2 series lead. Horton and company can also thank Thomas for making the save of the season after going post to post to rob Brian Gionta on a 2-on-1 to keep the game tied at 1-1 prior to Horton’s first overtime winner of the series.
4. Game 4, Bruins-Whalers, April, 1990
After clinching their first Presidents’ Trophy, the Bruins were set to embark in the “New England Civil War” with their first round series against the Hartford Whalers.
The Bruins, down 2-1 in the series, trailed the Whalers 5-2 and head coach Mike Milbury replaced starting goaltender Reggie Lemelin with Andy Moog to try to get a response from this team. Guess what, this move paid off for Milbury (something that you rarely heard while he was GM of the New York Islanders) and the Bruins stormed back scoring four unanswered goals capped off by Dave Poulin’s game-winner with 1:44 left to tie the series at 2-2.
3. Game 7, Bruins-Habs, April, 2011
The Habs came back home at the Bell Centre to force a Game 7, and of course the series finale went a little longer than advertised. PK Subban forced overtime with a power play goal late in the third period, but Horton, again, came up in the clutch sending the TD Garden to a frenzy.
Say what you want about his three years in Boston, but Horton delivered when it mattered the most in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And even with Thomas’ all-world season, without Horton’s presence in the clutch, the Bruins might not have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
2. Game 6, Bruins-Habs, Arpil, 2008
The top seeded Habs had their way with the Bruins during the 2007-08 season as they won all eight regular season meetings and were up 3-1 in their first round series. The B’s, however, would not go down without a fight as they forced a Game 6. The Bruins trailed three times during the course of that infamous Game 6, but Marco Sturm’s game-winner late in the third period capped off an incredible contest and forced a Game 7 up in the Bell Centre.
To celebrate, Habs fans rioted the Montreal streets after their Game 7 first round win. Bruins fans did not celebrate on the streets after Game 6, but to paraphrase Jack Edwards, “that building was vibrating” and it was a sign of things to come.
1. Game 7, Bruins-Maple Leafs, “the comeback”
Need we say more?