CHICAGO — Patrice Bergeron left the arena in an ambulance. The Bruins headed home on the brink of elimination.
Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals didn’t go according to plan for Boston, with Patrick Kane scoring two goals to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-1 victory and 3-2 series lead on Saturday night.
The Bruins must win at home on Monday night to force a seventh game and keep their hopes alive for a second championship in three years.
“We’re going to fight,” David Krejci said. “We’re going to fight with everything we have and force Game 7.”
It would help if they had Bergeron. But their top forward’s status is in question after he was taken to a hospital in an ambulance with an undisclosed apparent back injury. There were no immediate updates regarding his condition this morning; one national media report citing “Bruins sources” lats last night indicated that Bergeron had sufferd a spleen injury, but that could not be confirmed this morning.
Bergeron had skated gingerly off the ice after playing just parts of two shifts in the second period, and coach Claude Julien didn’t say much about it afterward.
He would not reveal how it happened or any other details. He did say Bergeron “may be in the next game,” but brushed aside further questions.
“Guys, I’m not going there, so anything else but injury here,” Julien said. “I’ll update you when I have an update. There’s nothing more. We can ask a million questions. I don’t have any more information than probably you guys do right now.”
The Bruins don’t have much more time, either.
What they do have is a history of fighting back when they’re close to being knocked out.
“We’ve been down this road before,” Krejci said. “In past years, we’ve been missing some key players and other players that (were) at the top. This is the time of the year when other guys are going to step up and you know it’s do-or-die for us.”
They were in several tough spots in 2011, only to keep rallying on the way to the championship.
They opened the playoffs that year with back-to-back losses to Montreal but won that series in seven games. In the Stanley Cup finals, they trailed 2-0 and 3-2 before rallying to beat Vancouver for their sixth title.
This year, they nearly got knocked off in the first round after jumping out to a 3-1 series lead against Toronto. They dropped the next two games and were down three in the third period in Game 7 before rallying to win that series, and their resolve is being tested again by the Blackhawks.
“We’ve been there before and done well in that situation,” Julien said. “Right now, our goal is to create a Game 7. And to create a Game 7, we’ve got to win a Game 6. We’ve been good at home, and we need to be good at home the next game. It’s as simple as that. There’s no panic. You’re not going to push us away that easy.”
The problem is the Bruins — who rallied to win Games 6 and 7 to claim the Stanley Cup in their 2011 final against the Vancouver Canucks — are facing a team that has sometimes dominated like no other this season, getting off to a record start on the way to finishing with the most points in the NHL.
The Bruins got a solid performance in goal from Tuukka Rask, who had 29 saves coming off a 6-5 overtime loss, but Chicago dictated the tempo, particularly in the second period.
That changed down the stretch, even without Bergeron on the ice.
“It’s kind of sad that you had to lose a guy like that to wake the team up and start battling out there,” Rask said. “You’re in the finals, you play 20 minutes and that’s not going to be good enough to get you a hockey game. We have to realize that. Now we’re going to have some new bodies, some new lines and everybody needs to put 110 percent in and leave their hearts on the ice.”
The Bruins looked like they might be building some momentum when Zdeno Chara fired a bullet from the left circle past Corey Crawford’s glove to cut the deficit to one early in the third.
They nearly tied it with 2:20 left, only to have Crawford stop Jaromir Jagr after the puck careened around in front of the net, and the Blackhawks hung on from there.
Now, the Bruins are simply trying to hang on, period.
“We’ve been through it before, but it doesn’t help to think about what happened in the past,” Rask said. “We have to live in the moment. We have to be ready on Monday, get the first win. And Game 7, if that happens, it’s going to be up for grabs.”