Laich: 'It just got real right now'

Laich: 'It just got real right now'
April 25, 2012, 10:58 pm
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News and notes as the Capitals and Bruins prepare for tonights Game 7 in Bostons TD Garden:

Pressure is fun: Capitals coach Dale Hunter is the only player in NHL history to score two series-clinching goals in overtime. As a coach of the London Knights he went 2-3 in Game 7s. So whats his advice to the Capitals as they enter tonights winner-move-one battle? Its a kids game, have fun with it, he said. We know whats at stake here. Its going out, playing hockey and have fun with it. Enjoy the moment. Ive played a lot of playoff games and you always remember your Games 7s. Its fun when you have pressure like that. Hunter said there is one thing he is certain about tonight. Our whole team will battle. Its going to come down to execution, but I know the effort will be there. Theyre going to bust their tails.

Lessons learned: Several Bruins have pointed to their Game 7 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, a game in which they scored the games first three goals, as the impetus to them winning a record three Game 7s last spring en route to their first Stanley Cup since 1972. You learn from negative games, said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference. You learn from positive games. Thats experience. Maybe we learned how to put a game away when we have them under our control. But youve got to remember theres another team out there, too.

Gotta Laich it: If there is one player in the Capitals locker room who can summarize the magnitude of the moment its Brooks Laich. Heres his take on the importance of tonights game: Were not happy to be in it. We want to win it. The chips are all in the middle. Its go time. It just got real right now. Its an old saying but you punch the hardest when youre backed in a corner. They played hard last game and we know we have to. Its going to be a tremendous hockey game.

St. Timothy: Tim Thomas played in three Game 7s for the Bruins last spring and won all of them, earning shutouts in two of them. Hes a guy Im sure 29 other teams would love to have for a game like this, said Bruins forward Chris Kelly. It is worth noting Thomas was a backup to Tuukka Rask when the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead in Game 7 two springs ago.

Keeping it close: The Caps-Bruins series is the first in NHL history to feature six straight one-goal games. Five of the six game-winning goals have come in the 59th minute of regulation or later in this series. Each team has had one game-deciding tally in the final two minutes of regulation in this series; Zdeno Chara for the Bruins in Game 3 and Troy Brouwer for the Capitals in Game 5. According to Elias, this is the first Stanley Cup playoff series in 17 years that has featured both teams with a game-winner in the final two minutes of regulation. Pittsburghs Luc Robitaille scored in the final two minutes of Game 1 and New Jerseys Scott Stevens turned the trick in Game 2 in a second-round series between the Penguins and the Devils in 1995. Brouwer is just the second Capital ever to score a game-winning playoff goal in the final two minutes of regulation; Craig Laughlin did it against the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the Patrick Division final in 1984.

Success in the Gah-den: Each team has won two games on the road in this series with Washington earning wins in Game 2 and Game 5 in Boston. Road teams have gone 28-16 during the 2012 playoffs. Braden Holtby has gone 2-1 with a 1.47 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage in his three road games during these playoffs.

Hot Holtby: Braden Holtby earned his second career NHL playoff win in Game 4, stopping 44 of the 45 shots he faced. His 44 saves are the second-most in the expansion era in a regulation playoff win for a rookie goaltender since Ken Dryden made 46 stops for Montreal in a 4-2 win against Boston on April 16, 1971. Holtby is now 3-3 with a 2.18 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in his first six postseason games. The rookie goaltender ranks tied for 11th in the league in goals-against average, tied for seventh in save percentage and second in saves made 202. He is the only rookie goaltender that has appeared in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Killer PK: The Capitals penalty kill has killed off 18 of Bostons 20 power plays so far in the series and 45 of its opponents last 49 power-play opportunities 92 percent dating back to March 16 18 games including all six playoff contests. Washington has allowed only four power-play goals in its last 18 games and ranks third in the NHL playoffs in penalty kill percentage 90.0 percent.