BOSTON — Why chance it?
No, the Boston Bruins do not have to win Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series in Montreal tonight against the Canadiens. They hold a 3 games to 2 series lead after putting forth their best performance of the series Saturday night at the TD Garden, scoring two power play goals while jumping out to a three-goal lead to dispatch their hated rivals, 4-2.
But common sense — which states that the Bruins could lose tonight and still come back and win a potential Game 7 Wednesday night back in Boston — doesn’t always apply when a 35-pound silver chalice is what you’re chasing.
“It’s basically a must-win game,” said Bruins defenseman Boychuk of tonight’s 7:30 p.m. puck drop. “I mean, you can’t sugarcoat it; it’s going to be a tough game ... they’re a great team. We have to be prepared for everything. They’re going to be putting everything on the line and we shouldn’t be expecting anything less.”
Leading the series for the first time, the Bruins do not want to surrender even a sliver of that momentum. Simply put, they want to drop the hammer tonight in the Bell Centre and make sure the home team puts away their skates and sticks for the summer.
The Bruins have finally started imposing their will on the Canadiens. It’s a case of a better team methodically yet effectively having chipped away at their opponents, gotten the better of them on the scoreboard and begun to frustrate them. They’re winning nearly all the battles along the walls, the 50/50 pucks in the neutral zone and forcing Montreal’s wingers far away from goaltender Tuukka Rask.
One of the world’s craftiest goal scorers, Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty, has as many goals in this series as you and I do. On a rare sighting Saturday night — Pacioretty getting a half-stride behind a Boston defenseman for an excellent scoring chance — Rask went post-to-post and denied his drag-and-backhand move with a left pad save.