Commentary

Seguin's OT strike forces Game 7

Updated: April 22, 2012, 10:50 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

WASHINGTON -- Less than 21 hours after losing Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals in Boston, injured Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron was the first player to arrive shortly before noon at the Verizon Center.

Dressed in a gray suit and listening to his pregame playlist, Bergeron walked down the hall and into the visitors dressing room to receive treatment for an undisclosed injury he suffered on Saturday.

A few minutes later, teammate Tyler Seguin, in his own gray suit and listening to his music, arrived at the rink.

[+] EnlargeTyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron
Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesTyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron helped the Bruins bring the series back to Boston.

Both Bergeron and Seguin were preparing for Game 6 well before the team bus left the hotel.

For Bergeron, his dedication and willingness to play is unmatched and he's respected throughout the league for it, so it's no surprise he was at the rink early. Seguin, who had struggled early in this first-round series, played better in Game 5 but still hadn't produced offensively the way Bruins coach Claude Julien had hoped the young forward would.

Both Bergeron and Seguin were key components and helped the Bruins stave off elimination with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 6 to force a dangerous Game 7 on Wednesday in Boston.

Seguin scored the game-winning goal at 3:17 in OT, but he played well at both ends of the ice the entire game and that was just as important.

Julien thought Seguin turned a corner in Game 5 on Saturday in Boston. The 20-year-old forward had a few quality scoring opportunities, but still couldn't connect.

"When those things start happening, you know it's coming around," Julien said. "I thought he was skating extremely well tonight. He used his speed and had a chance earlier in the game, and to me, it was fitting for him to get that goal."

Seguin made the most of his opportunities at both ends of the ice in Game 6.

With the game tied 2-2 almost midway through the third period, Seguin gained control of the puck and zoomed down the right side. He was able to get a shot off from a tough angle and Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made the initial save, but the rebound sat in the slot with a scrum around the puck when Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference crashed the net and pumped in the go-ahead goal at 11:57.

Boston could not hold that lead and regulation ended with the score tied 3-3.

Seguin's goal in overtime was a pretty one. He used a burst of speed into the offensive zone, received a tape-to-tape pass from Milan Lucic and broke in on Holtby. Seguin was patient, waiting for Holtby to sprawl out of control before pumping in the game winner.

"First of all, he made the great play on Ference's goal, and then for [Seguin] to jump on that and be patient enough to skate around their goaltender and finish it off was great to see," Julien said. "We need to see a young player like that gain some confidence if we're going to become a better team down the stretch."

The coach was also impressed with Seguin's defensive play and his ability to transition that led to Ference's goal.

"He's been a player that has grown, matured and is understanding more and more how important it is to play a great two-way game in the playoffs," Julien said. "I've said it many times, we're pretty proud and pleased at the way he's handled everything since he's been with us. He's a player that still knows he's got a lot to learn, and he wants to learn to become the best player he can in this league. What he did tonight is showcase some of the potential that he's got moving forward."

For Seguin's performance, he was honored with the team's postgame celebratory chain.

During his rookie season a year ago, Seguin was a healthy scratch for the first two rounds of the playoffs against Montreal and Philadelphia. After Bergeron suffered a mild concussion in Game 4 of the semifinals against the Flyers, Seguin was inserted into the lineup for the conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He produced a total of six points in Games 1 and 2 of that series and helped the Bruins hoist the Stanley Cup on June 15 in Vancouver.

During the regular season this year, he led the team in scoring with 29 goals and 38 assists for 67 points. That offensive production did not translate into the playoffs -- until Game 6.

"There's a lot that's asked of him," Ference said. "He's a young guy and we all understand that he's given a lot of opportunity, but he also has a lot of expectations. We have to remind ourselves how old he is and how it's difficult to play, especially at this time of year in this league. I think it's a big step for him to show up in a big game after taking a little added pressure to perform and going out and having a game like that. That's obviously another building block in his career and with his maturity. It's very promising to see a guy take that path instead of shirking away from the pressure."

Even Bergeron, who was clearly playing hurt, made it a point to talk about Seguin's overall play and not just the game-winning goal.

"Even if you don't think about the goal, he skated a lot better and he competed," Bergeron said. "On that third goal, he made a great defensive play. It's the huge details that go a long way."

As far as Bergeron, his play was courageous given that he was a game-time decision due to an unspecified upper-body injury. He couldn't even play his normal position at center and had to play the wing, along with Rich Peverley and Brad Marchand on his line.

"He played well and he competed hard," Julien said. "He's not taking faceoffs because he's not 100 percent, but he was good enough to play through this whole game and play a real solid game. It speaks volumes with this guy. Every time we talk about this player, there's always something new that comes up that makes him an even greater player. As much as he's extremely respected in the room, somehow he did it even more today."

There's no nagging injury that will keep Bergeron out of the lineup and his teammates expect that from him.

"He's as honest as honest players get, as far as not making it about himself," Ference said. "He's going to plow through anything and do what he can for the team. He doesn't get too much fanfare because he does it all the times. It's not out of the ordinary."

The Bruins are hoping that Bergeron and Seguin can keep their momentum going in Game 7 on Wednesday.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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