Somehow, you just knew it would come to this.
Game 7. In Boston. The defending Stanley Cup champions against the Little Engines That Think They Can.
Its expected this series was going to go far after the first two games, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said after watching Tyler Seguin score 3 minutes, 17 seconds into the first overtime period to force a Game 7 Wednesday night at TD Garden.
These are the fun hockey games we all like to play.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, this the first time in NHL playoff history that the first six games of a series have been decided by one goal. Both teams have evenly divided 28 goals.
Its crazy, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas said. Its been back and forth. Nobody can get any dominant position in this whole series. I suppose thats the way the playoffs are supposed to be, nice and tight.
The Bruins outshot the Capitals 39-31 and took three one-goal leads, only to see the Capitals answer. But with the fans at the Verizon Center on the edge of their seats in overtime, a giveaway led to Seguins game-winner.
Bruins center David Krejci intercepted a pass by Nicklas Backstrom and fed Milan Lucic, who sprung Seguin free on a semi-breakaway. Seguin, who had been stopped by Braden Holtby on 23 consecutive shots, faked the rookie goalie out of his net and deposited a shot into the empty cage, bringing a hush to the crowd and pulling the Bruins out of the fires of elimination.
I saw the goalie challenging, Seguin said, so I just tried to make a quick move and I got lucky it went in.
Said Backstrom: I was trying to hit Marcus (Johansson) there but I missed the pass, so bad turnover by me. Weve got a new chance on Wednesday. Weve just got to refocus and make sure we play our best game.
As was the case in Games 1 and 2, the two teams needed extra time to decide Game 6.
The Bruins grabbed a 3-2 lead with 8:03 remaining in regulations when an offensive zone giveaway by Alex Semin led to an odd-man rush by Seguin that resulted in Andrew Ferences first goal of the playoffs and the Bruins third lead of the game.
But just as they have all series, the Capitals answered back. This time it came with 4:52 remaining in regulation. Nicklas Backstrom beat Rich Peverley cleanly on an offensive zone draw back to Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals captain stopped the puck with his left skate and snapped a wrist shot through a thicket of legs and behind Tim Thomas for his second and most important goal of the series.
With 24 hours separating Games 5 and 6 and just one goal separating the two teams after five games the Capitals and Bruins took turns with the momentum.
The Bruins grabbed the early lead 5:56 into the contest when Peverley deflected an Ference point shot past Holtby for his team-high third goal of the series.
The Capitals answered at the 9:47 mark when Mike Green faked a shot, forcing Bruins forward Gregory Campbell to drop to his knees. Green reloaded and blasted a shot that was heading wide of the net before it deflected off Bruins defenseman Greg Zanon and past Thomas.
The goal was Greens first of the playoffs and his first since back on Oct. 22, before he suffered the first of two injuries that sidelined him a total of 50 games.
The Bruins regained the lead before the end of the period when David Krejci deftly tucked a Milan Lucic pass through Holtby for his first goal of the playoffs and the Bruins second power-play goal in as many games. Holtby tried reaching behind him to grab the puck, but it was too late.
Thomas made the save of the game with 9 minutes remaining in the second period when he made a diving stick save on Johansson, who double-clutched on a wide open net, giving Thomas the split second he needed to poke the puck away.
It looked like the Bruins would head into the third period with a one-goal lead but Jason Chimera tapped a beautiful lead pass from Backstrom behind Thomas with 41.9 seconds remaining in the second period to tie the score at 2-2.
And now the series heads back to Boston, where the Capitals already have won twice in this series.
Its difficult, Ovechkin said of the task in front of the Capitals, but I dont think its going to be hard. Its going to be a 50-50 game, 50-50 chances.