MONTREAL -- Now it comes down to Game 7.
If the Boston Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday at TD Garden, they will return to the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in four years. If they lose, it will be a major disappointment. In order to beat their historic rival, the Bruins will need to rely on their experience in these situations.
"You know it's not going to be easy," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "You fought all season long to get the home-ice advantage in situations like this. You've got to go out there and get it."
After the Canadiens defeated the Bruins 4-0 in Game 6 on Monday at Bell Centre, Boston coach Claude Julien was confident about his team's chances in Game 7.
"I expect us to win," Julien said with certainty as he ended his postgame media conference and walked away from the podium as if throwing down the challenge to his players.
En route to their Stanley Cup championship in 2011, the Bruins became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s in one playoff year. This will be Boston's ninth Game 7 against the Canadiens, with Montreal holding a 5-3 advantage. In 2011, Boston lost Game 6 in Montreal 2-1, but returned to Boston and won Game 7 in overtime 4-3.
Overall, the Bruins are 4-4 in Game 7s under Julien.
"Can't dwell on anything going into a Game 7," Lucic said. "For guys that have been around here for a couple years, this is the ninth one since 2008, so it's all we're looking forward to right now. We're putting everything else behind us. We know one game, winner moves on."
In the closing seconds of Game 6 on Monday, the Bruins felt Montreal took some liberties and Boston wanted to respond and set the tone for Game 7. An all-out scrum broke out after Montreal's Andrei Markov struck Zdeno Chara in the groin area with a stick. Boston's captain responded, but after the game he described it as the sort of battle that happens during the course of a game.
Julien wasn't as diplomatic.
"Although we're perceived as the bad guys and they're the good guys, when Markov trips Chara and then he puts his stick between his legs and nothing's going to be called, eventually somebody's going to react," Julien said. "Whether it's right or wrong, Zdeno reacted and then everything else started. There was a slew-foot before -- [David] Desharnais on [Brad] Marchand. It's a slew-foot. Those are things that we keep talking about that are dangerous in our game. It's a rivalry and there are some things going on on both sides."
Julien added, "I'm not portraying ourselves as innocent here. I'm just saying it takes two teams to tangle and that's what happened."
After the loss, as always, Rask was calm. He's confident the Bruins will rebound in Game 7.
"It's just another game," Rask said. "It's not any different than any other loss."
The Bruins are the type of team that scoffs at the notion of momentum carrying over. Maybe that needs to be their mindset after losing a game when they had the opportunity to eliminate their opponent.
"Maybe we should have had the momentum in this game," Rask said, referring to the Bruins' Game 5 win. "So I don't think it carries over game by game. As long as you regroup after a loss, it's only a matter of how you handle it mentally and prepare for the next one. We'll be ready for Game 7, for sure."
There are lessons that should be learned from Game 6. On Wednesday, the Bruins can't have any mental mistakes, which has been an issue for them in this series.
"You can't forget about it. You've just got to realize the facts of what happened," Rask said. "At the end of the day, we thought we played a pretty solid game and gave them some gifts, and that's it. We've got to clean it up and move on."
Boston needs to have a perfect Bruins-style effort in Game 7.
"You've got to be ready to play them," Chara simply said.
The puck will drop for Game 7 on May 14, which is a date that hasn't been kind for the Bruins in do-or-die games on home ice. On May 14, 2009, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Bruins 3-2 in overtime. On May 14, 2010, the Philadelphia Flyers completed an historic comeback, erasing a 3-0 deficit to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 7.
The Bruins hope to reverse that misfortune on May 14, 2014.
"We're confident," Lucic said. "We've been a confident group all year long. We've played well in big games. This is the biggest one so far throughout this year, so we've got to bring our best when we need it the most. That's the most important thing."
"Everybody needs to step up, not just the veteran guys," Rask said. "Obviously, we've been in that situation before and we've got to approach it like any other game, but be really desperate and play our kind of hockey."