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BOSTON -- Forget orange slices, Gatorade and bags of IVs.
A few early-morning glasses of red wine did the trick for several Boston Bruins players who needed help falling asleep after their 2-1 double-overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night at TD Garden.
|David Krejci celebrates after scoring the Bruins' first goal in a 2-1 win in Game 3.|
By the time the game ended with Patrice Bergeron's game-winning tally, it was well past midnight. Players on both teams were exhausted after five periods of Stanley Cup playoff hockey.
With the exception of a few Bruins players (mostly the healthy scratches), neither team practiced on Thursday. The Bruins players arrived at the Garden for treatment as they prepare for a chance to close out the series in Game 4 Friday night on home ice.
From a physical and emotional standpoint, players, coaches and training staff from both teams were working feverishly to recover from the dramatic Game 3 marathon.
"You do the best you can as far as psychologically," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We have a talk with those guys and make sure they get their rest. We addressed things from [Game 3]. That's why we have a training staff, to take care of their bodies and their recovery part of it, as well.
"There's two teams that have to feel the same way. When you look at Pittsburgh, they worked just as hard as we did [Wednesday] night and maybe even harder. But it's one of those things that this is a tough sport, and when you look at a game like last night, you really learn to appreciate the athletes."
The Bruins are taking nothing for granted and hope to recover fully before the puck drops on Game 4.
"I feel a little bit better than [Wednesday] night," said Bruins forward David Krejci. "It was a tough game. We left a lot of energy out there, but we got a good sleep and feel better today."
The goal for Boston is a simple one: Continue to play its style of game in hopes of closing out this series Friday and advancing to the team's second appearance in the Stanley Cup finals in three seasons.
"Obviously," said an exhausted Johnny Boychuk. "All it means is we're up 3-0. We have to take each game as it comes. It's hard to close out a series, especially against these guys because we know they'll be coming hard and they'll be putting everything on the line. We don't expect anything less."
When a team faces elimination, it has a tendency to play with desperation because it has nothing to lose, and that will be the case for the Penguins.
"Us, being on the other side, we have to find a way to create that desperation in our heads to match what they're going to bring," said Bruins veteran and two-time Stanley Cup champion Shawn Thornton.
After a subpar first two games of this series, the Penguins played well in Game 3. Boston struggled during regulation, but goaltender Tuukka Rask bailed out his teammates with a 53-save performance. With Pittsburgh having lost out on opportunities to win Game 3, it's all the more reason for the Bruins to want to end this thing in Game 4.
"We have to take this game by game," Krejci said. "I know we're up 3-0 but it doesn't seem like it. It's been tough all three games, especially the last one. We know we have to be better because they're going to be a desperate team tomorrow, playing for their season. We have to be desperate, as well."
If the Penguins stave off elimination and return to Consol Energy Center feeling good about their game, it could be dangerous for the Bruins. Remember, Pittsburgh won 15 consecutive games in February.
"Well, there's no question what's at stake for our future is a chance to play Game 5," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. We know we're in a 0-3 hole, we know the situation, we know the history and the odds, but tomorrow is an elimination game for our team. We have one game, we have 60 minutes, win one game and move on to the next day."
Despite many inconsistencies this season, the Bruins have proved when they play Julien's system effectively, not many teams can beat them. It worked in 2011 en route to a Cup championship and it's working right now. When Boston is successful defensively, it creates offense and that's when the Bruins are at their best.
"We believe in our system and we have for a long time," Thornton said. "For whatever reason this system is questioned a lot in this city, but we've had success with it and there's no guesswork involved. There's a lot of hard work involved but everyone's on the same page."
If the Bruins can close out this series Friday night, they'll face either the Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup finals. Then Boston will have an opportunity to once again drink from Lord Stanley's Cup, which would make more red wine even sweeter.