If Game 6 is anything like the last time the Boston Bruins were playing to stay alive in these Stanley Cup playoffs, it's going to be a bruiser.
Coming off a 4-0 win to close the gap in their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the top-seeded Bruins again face elimination Tuesday night as they aim to even the series in Raleigh, N.C., and force Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Fights, 29 penalties, 83 penalty minutes — Game 5 was a chippy, physical affair to say the least. It was Bruins hockey, says coach Claude Julien.
"I know we're a team that plays on the edge, as far as being physical and playing with a lot of emotion that way, and [Game 5] was certainly more our type," Julien said. "Now whether it plays more to our advantage, I don't know. It's certainly the type of game that we want to play."
It was Milan Lucic's huge first-period hit on Carolina's Dennis Seidenberg that got the Bruins on the scoreboard in Game 5. Seidenberg retaliated with a slash that sent Boston on a power-play, and they scored what would be the game-winner.
Walker fined, not suspended
If facing elimination isn't enough motivation, the Bruins have even more reason to be fired up since the NHL announced Carolina's Scott Walker would receive a $2,500 fine but no suspension for what Julien called a "sucker punch" on Bruins defenceman Aaron Ward in Game 5.
Walker dropped his gloves and decked Ward with a right cross that may have broken a bone in his face. Ward's hands were at his sides when he was hit and his gloves were on.
Ward did travel to Raleigh and is listed in the Bruins' lineup for Tuesday's game.
"We have long memories, how about that?" Boston forward Shawn Thornton said of the punch. "It's not something you can obviously address this time of year. Winning games is more important than anything else. But things are not forgotten."
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are downplaying the incident.
"That's hockey," Carolina forward Erik Cole said.
'We lost our focus a little bit'
Carolina, which won three straight against a Boston team that swept Montreal in the first round, is looking to get back to the style of play that saw them hold the Bruins to three goals during that streak.
"We lost our focus a little bit. I think we got caught up into their style of game," said Carolina goaltender Cam Ward, who has a 2.14 goals-against average through the playoffs.
"We were taking a little bit more penalties than we did in the first few games, and got caught up in what was going on after the whistle was blown. We've just got to get back to playing the way we did in the previous three games. We're still in a good situation."
History is on their side, too.
Never in Boston Bruins history has the team come back from a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs, and they've been in this position 20 times.
Despite history, Julien said his team is far more confident going into Game 6 than they were in Game 5, down 3-1.
"Now we know that when we do pick up our game, the results are there," he said. "So we have to go into that game [Tuesday] feeling better about our chances."
Pressure to wrap up the series at home
For Carolina's part, the 4-0 rout is pretty well forgotten.
"The good news is, it wasn't one of those heartbreaking losses that lingers," captain Rod Brind'Amour said. "That one's pretty much easy to put behind you."
The pressure is on, though, to wrap up the series Tuesday and avoid going back to Boston for Game 7 where they face the possibility of blowing a 3-1 series lead.
"It's not a must-win because we'd have another one," Brind'Amour said. "But we definitely, obviously, want to take care of it here."
Game 7, if necessary, is Thursday night in Boston.