Bruins Regain Home-Ice Advantage, as Series Becomes Best of Three
BOSTON, MA - The series is tied at two games apiece, instead of the Bruins in a three games to one hole.
From the realm of Captain Obvious, that's a big difference.
"Simple mathematics, I guess. It's a lot better," Shawn Thornton said on Friday afternoon from the Bruins' locker room at TD Garden.
He, along with a dozen teammates, had hit the ice for an optional skate following their 1-0 overtime win in Montreal Thursday night. Most of the Bruins stayed off to rest.
"It's one game at a time either way, but we'd definitely rather be put in this position than down 3-1, for sure," acknowledged Thornton.
"That's a huge difference," said Torey Krug. "I think just understanding that situation, and I've said it time and time again, there isn't a situation that this room hasn't faced before, so I think it's a great challenge."
"It turns into a best of three and we have home ice advantage, and we want to make sure we take advantage of that."
Game 5 is set for 7:00 p.m. ET on Saturday evening at TD Garden.
"It's a little bit more positive, I guess, being tied 2-2, rather than down 3-1, but having said that, our mentality has to stay the same, as far as taking it one game at at a time," said Gregory Campbell.
"The good thing is that [Saturday] night's game is at home, so hopefully that will give us the boost of energy that we need."
"But other than that, you know, I keep saying it's a series - it is. It's back and forth, it's been close and so expect another close game."
Besides an empty-netter each by Boston and Montreal to seal their respective Game 2 and 3 wins, this series has essentially been one-goal games.
After a 4-3 double OT win for Montreal in Game 1, the Bruins' four-goal comeback capped off by Milan Lucic's empty-netter gave them the 5-3 win in Game 2. When the series shifted to Montreal, the Bruins mounted another comeback and came within one goal before Lars Eller fired in the empty-netter for the 4-2 win.
Game 4 was the tightest game played yet. Both teams clamped down defensively, both Tuukka Rask and Carey Price were sharp, and only Matt Fraser could find the back of the net, at 1:19 into overtime for the 1-0 shutout. For once, the Bruins didn't need a gutsy comeback; they just needed a gutsy OT-winner.
"They play us tight," said Campbell. "And they had some chances, we had some chances, it was back and forth, so in those games, usually it's a mistake by one side or the other, or a goal that's a fluky goal."
"So, there's room for improvement, but we did make some steps."
Back in the 'home sweet home' confines of TD Garden for Saturday night, amidst their fans, the Bruins aren't necessarily feeling more pressure. If anything, they're more relieved that they can take a breath.
"I don't think anybody's got too much pressure," said Rask. "It's just playoffs - and you have fun out there, and work hard, and get the wins."
"It's 0-0 again, and a three-game series now, so I don't think anyone has pressure. Whoever's better, deserves to win at the end."
The collective deep breath will be short-lived with this group.
"It's obviously a lot better to be 2-2 than down 3-1. So, it is what it is, but as a team we know we can be a lot better on the ice," said Rask. "And in order to get more wins, we have to play better and stay focused on doing our jobs."
Fraser may have only been with the team for barely 48 hours, but he's fully on-board with the mentality.
"It's only one goal and the series is tied now," said Fraser. "And we've got a whole new day tomorrow."
With the Bruins flying back from Montreal late Thursday night, Friday's practice was optional at TD Garden, as is customary throughout the playoffs. Players do what they feel they need to recover, regroup, and get ready for the next game.
Most of the Bruins' weekend games through the end of the regular season and start of the postseason have been matinees, but Saturday's is set for 7:00 p.m. The few hours of extra rest should help both sides.
Goalie: Chad Johnson