WASHINGTON -- Three times the Washington Capitals rallied Sunday against the Boston Bruins, each time snatching momentum and moving one shot away from possibly eliminating the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Each time, the champs responded.
Tyler Seguin scored 3:17 into overtime in Game 6 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at Verizon Center to give the Bruins a 4-3 victory to stave off elimination.
This is the first series in Stanley Cup Playoff history to start with six one-goal games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Game 7 will be Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston.
"Obviously I am glad to be going back there, but it is probably the type of series that has been so close that it deserves a Game 7," Boston defenseman Andrew Ference said. "It is probably fitting given that neither team has really given the other team too much with leads or been able to hold onto leads. It has been a good hockey series, and the Game 7 is well deserved on both sides."
Seguin had been quiet offensively in this series, with no points in the first five games. He was a dominant player in this contest, creating a go-ahead goal in the third period and then scoring the game-winner.
Washington's Nicklas Backstrom tried to hit Marcus Johansson with a pass in the neutral zone during an overtime period dominated by the Bruins, but David Krejci -- another one of Boston's silent stars earlier in this series -- knocked it out of the air. Krejci sent the puck to Milan Lucic at the left wall, where the latter slipped it to Seguin. The speedy wing blew by defenseman Dennis Wideman and then outwaited goaltender Braden Holtby before scoring his first goal of the series.
"This series I've had a lot of chances and opportunities and I haven't been finishing them off," Seguin said. "It's just really nice to get that feeling of finding the back of the net."
The Bruins needed seven games in three of their four playoff series last season en route to claiming the Cup. Boston also needed to win Game 6 to avoid elimination against the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final.
This group of Washington players also has plenty of experience in Game 7s, but most of it doesn't elicit fond memories. The Capitals have lost a Game 7 in three of the past four seasons, though each of those defeats was on home ice.
"You expect your team to show the experience that they've gained in the past," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I said that tonight before Game 6. When you go through those kinds of situation, you can handle those a lot better."
Added Washington coach Dale Hunter, who has one of the two Game 7-winning goals in the franchise's history (Sergei Fedorov had the other): "Any experiences you get in the playoffs, it just adds to you. You know what to expect. Game 7s are exciting games because it's do or die for both teams and they're awesome to play in."
Ference scored on a rebound with 8:03 remaining in the third period to put the Bruins ahead 3-2. Seguin made a great play to strip Alexander Semin of the puck and then rushed up the right wing.
His shot came off Holtby. Semin raced back to cancel out the first Bruins' attacker, but Ference was the second man in and he put the loose puck past Holtby for his first goal of this series, but his second career postseason goal in this building -- he had one in a 2-1 win for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of an opening-round series in 2001.
"Some of the games, there have been lots of opportunities to jump up and sometimes it has been foolish to even try," Ference said. "We have a responsible green light, but it has been to a good hockey play and not just recklessly jumping up and all over the place."
Alex Ovechkin had missed the net on three great scoring chances earlier in the contest, but he brought Washington back for the third time with 4:52 remaining in regulation. Backstrom, who was the guy Ference beat to the loose puck, won a faceoff back to Ovechkin, and his shot trickled through Boston goaltender Tim Thomas' legs for his second goal of the series.
It was Backstrom's second assist of the game, but he was also on the ice for all four of Boston's goals and was partially responsible for the last two.
"They came out hard," Washington forward Matt Hendricks said. "You could tell right from the first period that they were ready to play tonight. It was do-or-die for them, so they came out hard.
"[They were] Stanley Cup champs last year. They're not gonna die easy."
Rich Peverley put the Bruins in front 5:56 into an unexpectedly open first period. Peverley, who took 24 faceoffs in this contest with center Patrice Bergeron on his wing after being injured in Game 5, won an offensive-zone draw and then deflected a shot from Ference for his team-leading third goal of the series.
Peverley has played on three different lines this season for the Bruins, and has been key to helping replace the injured Nathan Horton in the team's top-six forwards. He was also a critical player for the Bruins last season after arriving at the trade deadline.
"It took [Peverley] a little while to get going again after that injury that he had in mid-February," Julien said. "He was fortunate to have a couple of weeks before the playoffs started and he's found his game. He had a lot of ice time tonight (22:36) and he's an exhausted player, but he's so versatile."
Mike Green scored his first goal since October to level the score for the Capitals at 9:47 of the period. Green wound up to shoot from the left point, but waited after Gregory Campbell went to the ice to block his shot. After Campbell started to get up, Green shot past him and off Greg Zanon in front of Thomas and in.
Green missed 50 games this season with ankle and groin/sports hernia injuries, and hadn't scored a goal since getting two on Oct. 22 against Detroit. It was only Green's third playoff goal since the 2007-08 season -- a span of 35 games.
Krejci's power-play goal at 16:48 gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
The second period was full of defensive miscues and turnovers on the wrong side of the red line, but it took 19:18 before either team could capitalize. Jason Chimera knotted the score at 2-2 after a perfect pass from Backstrom.
There was contact between Chimera and Boston forward Brad Marchand in the Washington zone, but the replay showed Marchand embellished it and ended up getting clipped by his own stick in the process. He stayed on the ice, while Chimera continued moving right-to-left before swooping toward Thomas on the left wing.
Thomas had been attacking shooters aggressively all game, coming far out of his crease to challenge. Backstrom flicked a backhanded saucer pass past Zdeno Chara and out in front of Chimera, who arrived just in time to stash it into the net behind Thomas for his first goal of the series.
After playing on back-to-back days, the teams will have two days to rest up before Game 7 back in Boston.
"The most important thing now is to be ready to play there," Washington forward Mike Knuble said. "Guys are not happy. We had a chance to finish it off today, but at the same time we get another chance to win one game on the road."