"Growing up, wanting to play in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals ... and here we are," he said after the Boston Bruins' 5-2 Game 6 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. "We just have to go there, do what we need to do to win, and embrace it."
Thing is, Milan Lucic was a hockey-loving child who grew up in Vancouver.
The stoic apathy that swept through the crowd at Rogers Arena after the Bruins scored four goals in 4 minutes and 14 seconds of the first period was a reminder that Game 7s don't just happen — one team forces it on another.
The Canucks had a chance to win the Cup on Monday night. The Bruins have forced them into a do-or-die championship game.
"It's something the fans there have wanted for a long time. That the city's wanted to win for a long time," said Lucic of Vancouver.
"We just have to go up there and play spoilers."
Game 6 could have been a coronation for the Canucks. Their families and friends were in Boston. The Stanley Cup was minutes away from the building. Vancouver had the decided advantage for the first five minutes of the game.
Then Tim Thomas(notes) made a kick-save on an open Daniel Sedin(notes) shot, the Bruins transitioned into a Brad Marchand(notes) rush, his shot beat Roberto Luongo(notes) glove side, and 4:14 later Luongo was watching Boston defend a 4-0 lead while sitting on the bench.
He ended up there roughly three days after questioning the goaltending style of Tim Thomas, after the Bruins goalie gave up a Max Lapierre goal in Game 5 that Luongo felt his style would have allowed him to stop. The Boston fans wouldn't let him forget the comeuppance: Chanting his name deep into the third period, long after he was pulled.
"Yeah, the fans were unbelievable," said Marchand when asked about the chant.
Predictably, Thomas was asked to critique Luongo's first goal surrendered in Game 6 — and didn't take the bait.
"No, I'm not going to go there," he said. "I would prefer to focus on the fact that Marshy made a great shot and came up big for us and got that first goal that helped lead us to a victory."
Did Luongo's chatter about Tim Thomas after Game 5 — and the media overreaction to it — motivate the Bruins?
"He can say what he wants to say," said forward Brad Marchand. "We were just trying to focus on playing this game so we got a couple early and, you know, obviously they switched the goaltenders up."
Were the Bruins surprised they were able to chase Luongo again?
"It's a game where you get a couple of bounces and the puck goes in," said forward Michael Ryder(notes). "It's tough on a goaltender, but he's a great goaltender. He's definitely going to bounce back. We can't expect anything less."
Which is to say the Bruins expect Luongo to play as well as he's played previously in Vancouver during Wednesday's Game 7.
"Obviously, he's bounced back every game and I expect the same thing back in Vancouver," said Marchand.
"I think it kinda does. He's played really well at home. He's going to be confident at home," he said.
In Boston, Luongo has been pulled twice and gave up 15 goals on 63 shots. In Vancouver, Luongo has two shutouts and has given up two goals on 97 shots.
Vancouver has played like a different team at home; conversely, the Bruins haven't been the same aggressive, overwhelming team on the road. "At the end of the day, they won and we're going back home in front of our fans. One game showdown to win the Cup. That's it," said coach Alain Vigneault.
For Vancouver, it's the first Game 7 in a Stanley Cup Final since their last Game 7 in a Stanley Cup Final — 1994, when the New York Rangers won the Cup on home ice for the first time in 54 years.
Another Game 7, another Original Six team, another drought: 39 years since the last Cup in Boston, which will play the first Stanley Cup Final Game 7 in franchise history on Wednesday night.
"Obviously it's tremendous for the city and the organization and not too many people counted on us being at this point right now," said winger Mark Recchi(notes), who said during his postgame comments, "no matter what, it's been a great 22 years."
"It's a great feeling. We battled hard tonight. We came to play and it's coming down to one game. This is what we dream of, when you're little kids playing street hockey, you know, you're in Game 7."