BOSTON — The Bruins were facing elimination, but outside the TD Garden before Game 6 fans were optimistic. Two years ago in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins came back from the same deficit to beat Vancouver and win the Cup. Bruce Flax, of Mystic, Conn., thought history would repeat itself.
“I’m feeling good about it. In  they were down 3-2, came back, won two in a row. That’s what we’re going to do now,” Flax said.
The Bruins looked sharp early and an already excited crowd got more energized when Patrice Bergeron — who had gone to a Chicago hospital after being injured in Game 5 — came into the game. Then about 7 minutes in, center Chris Kelly put Boston up 1-0. However, the Bruins had two power plays in each of the first two periods, but failed to convert.
“Obviously when you look at the first period it could’ve been maybe 2, 3–0. But that’s the name of the game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You make your own breaks. Sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don’t.”
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews tied it up in the second period. The tie lasted until late into the third. Then Milan Lucic beat Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford with just under 8 minutes to play. The Bruins were 1 minute and 16 seconds from forcing Game 7 in Chicago when Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell tied it up again. And almost before anyone could say “overtime,” Chicago’s Dave Bolland scored to make it 3-2 with under a minute left — two goals 17 seconds apart.
Bolland says the series was tight. “They’re a great team. They battle to the end. They’re always battling hard. I know as a team, our team, we always battle to the end as well.”
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference agreed.
“How close every game was for both teams and how hard fought this series was,” Ference said. “It’s tough to be disappointed in the effort. It’s more just disappointed in the outcome. It’s a sick feeling to lose like that, but it’s a sick feeling to lose anyway.”
The disappointment carries extra weight for the team this season. Since the Boston Marathon bombings in April, the Bruins have honored victims and first responders before their home games.
“The city of Boston, what Newtown’s been through [in Connecticut]. All that kind of stuff, it hit close to home,” Julien said. “And the best way we felt we could try and cheer the area was to win a Stanley Cup and I think that’s what is hard right now for the players. We had more reasons than just ourselves to win a cup.”
It’s been a wild postseason. Just over a month ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs led the Bruins by three goals in Game 7 of the opening playoff round. Boston’s historic comeback set off a near-miss quest for the Cup. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask says he enjoyed the season.
“I had a lot of fun. It’s great to play with guys like this,” Rask said. “We try to have a lot of fun out there and play hard every night. We made it a great run, too bad we just couldn’t finish it off.”
The good thing about playing hockey in June: there’s not too much time to think about a loss before a new season is here.