|Looking back at Bruins’ Game 7 history over last decade||05.26.11 at 4:38 pm ET|
The Bruins will be fighting for their playoff lives when they take the ice for yet another decisive Game 7.
How many times have B’s fans heard that phrase in the last 10 years? Well, Friday night’s Game 7 against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals will be the sixth time in the last decade that the men in black and gold have played in the most-pressure packed game in professional hockey. In fact, Boston has played in a Game 7 in five of the seven seasons that it qualified for the playoffs over that span.
But that Game 7 history hasn’t been necessarily a good one. The Bruins are a horrid 1-4 in Game 7’s since 2001, with the lone win finally coming this season in the opening round against the rival Canadiens.
Here’s a look back at how the B’s fared in each of their Game 7’s of the past decade.
2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2-0 L vs. Canadiens
As the second seed in the Eastern Conference, this series against the seventh-seeded Habs should’ve been an easy one on paper. After the first four games of the series, it looked like that would certainly be the case as Boston jumped out to a 3-1 lead. But this was still the NHL playoffs, arguably the least predictable of all the professional North American postseason tournaments, and the Habs stormed back to score five goals in both Game 5 and Game 6 to tie the series.
In Game 7, it was Montreal goalie Jose Theodore’s time to take over. The netminder stoned all 32 shots from the Bruins while Richard Zednik potted both goals in the third period, one on an empty net in the waning seconds, to give the Habs the series win. The Game 7 win marked the first time Montreal had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. If there’s any silver lining for the Boston fans looking back on this loss, it’s that current Bruins bench boss Claude Julien was actually calling the shots for the Canadiens at the time. (Julien is 2-3 in Game 7’s for his career.)
2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 5-0 L at Canadiens
After a three-year stretch in which a 2005 lockout and two subpar seasons in 2006 and 2007 kept them out of the postseason, the Bruins finally sneaked their way back into the playoffs as the eight seed. Of course, the fates would have it that their opponent would again be those hated Habs, who would this time be the favorite as the Eastern Conference’s top seed. In a mirror image of the 2004 series, it was Montreal that jumped out to a 3-1 lead only to have Boston score five goals in each of the next two games to force a seventh game.
But this time, the little black-and-gold engine that could just ran out of steam. After fighting valiantly as the lowest seed in the eastern side of the bracket, the Bruins couldn’t continue further, falling 5-0 to the Habs at the Bell Centre. Andrei Kostitsyn had two of the five goals on Boston goalie Tim Thomas, and Carey Price made all 25 saves necessary to get the shutout.
2009 Eastern Conference semifinals, 3-2 L (OT) vs. Hurricanes
No Game 7 against the Habs in 2009 as the first-seeded Bruins disposed of their rivals from the north in just four games in the opening round. But with those demons exorcised, Boston still found out that the Hurricanes would not as much of a breeze. After taking Game 1 at home, the Bruins allowed the Hurricanes to take the next three games to fall into yet another 3-1 series hole. The B’s grabbed some momentum in a Game 5 shutout from Thomas in a 4-0 win and rode that to a 4-2 road win in the following game.
In the last game of the series, forward Byron Bitz made sure that there wouldn’t be a third consecutive goal-less Game 7 for Boston when he banged home a rebound 7:42 into the first period. But a tally from Rob Brind’Amour six minutes later combined with a Sergei Samsonov score in the second period gave Bruins fans some unease that this game and series would meet yet another disappointing conclusion. Milan Lucic calmed some of those fears with a game-tying tip-in in the third period. The game would see 18:46 of an extra frame before Scott Walker knocked a rebound from a Ray Whitney shot past Thomas to end what had once been a very promising Bruins season.
2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, 4-3 L vs. Flyers
A game and series that will forever live in infamy, at least in the minds of many New Englanders. Most know the story by now, but for those who don’t, let us be the first to welcome you out of the rock you’ve been living under for the last year.
After upsetting the third-seeded Sabres, 4-2, in the first round, the sixth-seeded Bruins took on the seventh-seeded Flyers, who managed to stomp the No. 2 Devils in five games. The B’s took home one-goal wins in both Games 1 and 2, and after a solid 4-1 Game 3 victory in Philadelphia, the series looked very much like it was in Boston’s hands. You could even say the series was the Bruins’ to lose, as previously only three teams in the big four American sports had lost a seven-game series after going up 3-0.
Well unfortunately for the B’s and their fans, that’s precisely what happened. Boston couldn’t seal the deal in a Game 5 overtime thriller before dropping the next two games by the scores of 4-0 and 2-1 respectively. And in Game 7, the hockey gods went to work once again. Lucic scored twice and Michael Ryder had a tally of his own to give Boston a 3-0 lead – recognize that from anywhere? – in the game’s first 14 minutes. James van Riemsdyk closed the gap to 3-1with a goal of his own in the first, and the Flyers tied it up at three apiece with goals by Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere in the second. With 8:90 left in the game, the Bruins were called for an inexcusable too-many-men penalty, and Simon Gagne scored the game-winner with 18 seconds remaining on the consequent power play. With the loss, the Bruins joined the 1942 Red Wings, 1975 Penguins and (of course) 2004 Yankees as the only teams to blow 3-0 series leads.
2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 4-3 W (OT) vs. Canadiens
In case you’re a Bruins fan who just skipped that last section because it was too painful to relive, here’s a Game 7 memory that may make you much happier. After being the only two Northeast Division teams to qualify for the postseason this season, the Bruins and Habs, who played one of the most entertaining games of the season earlier in 2011, met again in the first round. The team’s traded a pair of road wins in the first four games of the series and before each won at home (Boston 2-1 in double overtime in Game 5, Montreal 2-1 in Game 6) to force a seventh contest.
The Bruins raced out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 5:33, and after a Montreal comeback, Chris Kelly restored the Boston lead halfway through the third period. But with 1:57 left in the third and his team on the power play, Canadiens defenseman and Bruins villain P.K. Subban sent a blazing slapshot from the top of the left circle into the back of the net for the game-tying goal. However, it was Nathan Horton who hit the game-winning slapshot 5:43 into overtime to give the Bruins their first Game 7 win since 1994.
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