RALEIGH, N.C. — It’s been a little while since the Bruins held a commanding three games to none series lead. You have to go back all the way to 2013 against Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals for the last time they entered that scenario.
The Bruins finished the job in their sweep of the Penguins to advance to the Stanley Cup Final where they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. Now six years later, they enter Game 4 against the Carolina Hurricanes looking to stamp their ticket back to the Cup Final.
“It’s a good spot to be in but it’s far from being over. If [Carolina wins] then they get life. If we get it we’re onto the next one,” forward Brad Marchand said following Game 3. “It’s a huge game for both teams. They’re going to come out even harder than they did [in Game 3]. We’re going to have our hands full and hopefully, we can do the job.”
Marchand knows from experience. The fourth win is always the hardest one to get. The Bruins have only lost once during Marchand’s tenure when notching the first three wins of the series — the 2014 second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.
But the Bruins had trouble in the past closing a series after winning the first three. The Toronto Maple Leafs came back twice in 2013 and 2018 before ultimately falling in Game 7. The Habs came back from 3-2 down to force a Game 7 in 2014 and, before that, 2011. And who can forget the Philadelphia Flyers coming back from that 3-0 deficit to complete their historic come from behind victory en route to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2010?
Well, Zdeno Chara wants to forget that Philly moment. Who can blame him? Especially after the Bruins swept the Flyers out of the playoffs the very next year.
“I don’t remember exactly the feelings heading into [that] Game 4,” Chara said following Wednesday’s practice at PNC Arena. “But generally speaking the fourth game is always the toughest one to win. We have to prepare that way and take it one game at a time — and the next game is the most important game. So we’re not looking for anything that’s going to be given to us.”
Cliche. But also true.
Deficits aren’t new to the Hurricanes. They trailed the Washington Capitals twice — 2-0 and 3-2 — before dethroning the defending Stanley Cup champs in seven games. And their Game 3 effort against the battle-tested Bruins gives them something to build on to keep their season alive.
But a 3-0 deficit? Many of the young Hurricanes face that scenario for the first time in their careers, including Sebastian Aho, Justin Faulk and one-time Cup champ Teuvo Teravainen.
A frustrated Justin Williams — with five penalties under his belt in the last two games — faced a three games to none deficit before during is time in Los Angeles. The Kings won four straight against the Sharks in Round 1 en route to their second Stanley Cup in three seasons during the 2014 postseason.
The Hurricanes will most certainly lean on their captain’s experience with their season on the line Thursday night.
“Being down 3-0 creates an opportunity for yourself, and that’s the way you got to look at it. You have to instill a little bit of doubt in us and that’s the first step that we have to do,” Williams said. “We feel comfortable that if we play similar to the way we played in Game 3 then and in Game 4 try to create that doubt [in their game]. We’ve been hit three times here and it takes four to knock us down. We just have to show up, and we’ll see what happens.”
That’s easier said than done against these Bruins. They’re 3-0 in elimination games with a pair of wins in Round 1 against the Maple Leafs to go along with their Game 6 triumph over the Blue Jackets in Round 2.
Experience helps, no doubt. Patrice Bergeron knows that full well as one of a few Bruins remaining from that 2010 squad.
“Yeah, obviously we all know that the fourth win is always the hardest to get,” Bergeron echoed to the press hours prior to Game 4. “We can’t just sit on a 3-0 lead or a 3-1 lead and think it’s going to be easy. There’s going to be desperation from their side — a nothing to lose attitude — and we know it’s going to be there.”
The Hurricanes have nothing to lose. The Bruins, on the other hand, have another Stanley Cup Final appearance to gain.
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