BOSTON -- Mental toughness has become a trademark virtue for the Boston Bruins.
Trailing the Montreal Canadiens by two goals in the third period of Saturday's Game 2, the Bruins mounted another one of their vintage comebacks and finished with a 5-3 win.
In Game 1, the Bruins erased third-period deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 before eventually losing 4-3 in double overtime. Game 2's comeback win wasn't the first time the Bruins have responded from a two-goal, third-period deficit in the playoffs, following a first-round, 3-2 win in Game 4 against the Detroit Red Wings.
On Saturday, the Bruins weren't hanging their heads on the bench, even with the possibility of going to Montreal down two games to none. To make sure, veteran Shawn Thornton had a message for his teammates after suffering an injury only 22 seconds into the third period.
As he was carried down the tunnel by team trainers, Thornton looked back at the bench and said to his teammates, "One goal at a time."
Thornton later returned midway through the third period, before celebrating the big victory with his teammates.
Earlier in the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien did a good job of firing up his team late in the second period, though he paid the price for his tactics.
Trailing 2-1 late in the second period after the Canadiens scored a go-ahead power-play goal at 18:09, Julien unleashed on the officiating and was given a two-minute bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Montreal scored another power-play goal on Thomas Vanek's second of the game to gain a 3-1 lead at 6:30 of the third period. Boston didn't panic and mounted its comeback.
"We had that tough second period and at the start of the third, they got that other power-play goal, but the way we just battled back through, I felt, a lot of crap that we put up with today, was pretty indicative of what our team's all about," Julien said. "It just shows that if you focus on the things you need to focus on, there's a pretty good team that can accomplish a lot."
Julien said his team has grown over the years, and Saturday was another example of how the players can draw on that experience and maturity. With this core group in Boston, there isn't a situation it hasn't faced in the past -- good or bad.
"We have a group that has been here for a long time," Thornton said. "We've seen a lot of hockey on both sides and the experience helps. There's not a ton of panic when we're in these situations and we've been fortunate enough to pull some comebacks off. Now, you don't want to play with that all the time but I'm very proud of the way the guys stuck with it tonight."
At the start of this series, it was evident goaltending would be a crucial aspect for both teams. In Game 1, the Canadiens' Carey Price was outstanding and finished with 48 saves. He was solid again in the first two periods of Game 2, but the Bruins kept the pressure on and after a few good shots and a couple of bounces, Boston finished with a third-period flurry and scored four goals (including Milan Lucic's late empty-netter).
"It shows our character," said Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who finished with 25 saves. "I think we make it unnecessarily hard on ourselves sometimes, but it's a great, gutsy win today. I'm really proud of the guys."