Bruins-Capitals Preview


Playing on the road faced with a 3-2 series deficit isn't an ideal position for any team - not even the defending Stanley Cup champions.

At least the Boston Bruins don't have to look back far at all to see where a similar situation turned out just fine.

The visiting Bruins hope to get more from their skill players and stave off elimination against the Washington Capitals on Sunday in Game 6 of this Eastern Conference series.

During their Stanley Cup championship run last year, the Bruins dug out of a 2-0 hole in the first round against Montreal, and rallied from down 2-0 and 3-2 in the finals against Vancouver.

Boston will need to draw on that experience again after losing Saturday's Game 5, 4-3 on Troy Brouwer's power-play goal with 1:27 remaining. The Bruins erased deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 before Brouwer beat Tim Thomas a wrist shot from the right circle 1:23 after Benoit Pouliot was whistled for slashing Nicklas Backstrom.

Thomas, last year's postseason MVP and Vezina Trophy winner, knows the Bruins can't rely on past comebacks to start another one.

"It's good to know that we've been in tough spots before and responded well,'' he said. "Having said that, we've got to do that.''

Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who scored Boston's first goal Saturday, believes the experience will help.

"I hope we can rely on the experience from last year," Seidenberg told the team's official website. "We went through it last year, this is a different year but we have that in our bag that we can rely on the way we did last year and hopefully we can pull it off again and just play a strong game from the beginning."

Johnny Boychuk and Brad Marchand also scored Saturday for the Bruins, who didn't have any goals from their top five point-scorers from the regular season until Marchand tied the game late in the second period. Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Milan Lucic have combined for no goals and three assists in this series.

The Capitals, meanwhile, have received six goals and seven assists from their top five regular-season producers. Alexander Semin has goals in three straight games, while Alex Ovechkin has a goal and three assists in the series despite being held without a point in Game 5.

Also instilling confidence in Washington is the play of rookie Braden Holtby, who had 21 games of experience as an NHL goaltender heading into the series. Holtby stopped 34 shots Saturday, and has a .946 save percentage in the first five games compared to Thomas' .922.

"Everyone knows the fourth win is the hardest,'' Holtby said, "but we're not really focusing on whether the Bruins can come back. ... We have a game to win and we have a certain way we want to do it and that's to stick to our systems.''

A win would move the Capitals into the second round for the third time in four years. They held a 3-1 series lead against eighth-seeded Montreal in 2010 before losing the final three games.

"We'll be happy on the plane ride home. Guys will be in great spirits,'' said Mike Knuble, who scored his first goal of the series Saturday, "but when we touch down, when we get back to Washington, the prep will be, to a man, to every guy, going on right away. ... We're excited to go back to Washington to try and close this out.''

If the Capitals are unable to close out the defending champs, Game 7 would be Wednesday in Boston.