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Game Four Preview: PIT @ BOS

by Eric Russo / Boston Bruins – For the second straight series, the Bruins hold a three-games-to-none lead. Last round against the New York Rangers, the B’s dropped Game Four at Madison Square Garden, before finishing off the Blueshirts in Game Five. The B’s don’t want a repeat performance; they want to end things tonight and move on to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years.

“We've been through it with the Rangers, we were up 3-0 and we know how hard that last game was to win,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien during his media availability at TD Garden on Thursday, as his team stayed off the ice to rest following the 2-1 double overtime win that crept into the morning.

“That has to continue to be our belief, and the one thing we do know is we've got to play a better game than we did [Wednesday] night.  We might have won the game, but we're certainly not pleased with the way we played. We know they played better but I don't think we did, and we've got to make sure we're at the top of our game [tonight].”

The Black & Gold also had a 3-1 lead against Toronto in the first round and were forced to a seventh game, in which they had to make a historic third period comeback to advance. The B’s hope to use their experiences from both prior series this postseason as they try to close out the Penguins.

“It’s not just the Rangers series,” said Johnny Boychuk. “There are many series that we have learned from and we just have to take it one game at a time and come prepared next game.”

While a trip to the Cup Final is on the line, the Bruins don’t expect much to change when it comes to pressure or their focus.

“I don’t think the mentality changes,” said Torey Krug. “We go into every game expecting to win. That’s going to be our goal again [tonight]. I don’t think it is any more pressure. I think, if anything, it helps us dial in a little bit more. We are one win away from where we want to be at the end of the season, and we are going to come in [tonight] as a focused group.”

SPECIAL TEAMS: One thing that was thought to be a given entering the Eastern Conference Finals was that the Penguins would have a lethal power play. They came in clicking at over 28 percent on the man advantage in the playoffs. But so far, the Bruins have kept the Pens off the board, killing all 12 of Pittsburgh’s power plays over the first three games.

In Game Three, led by Tuukka Rask and Gregory Campbell – who broke his right fibula blocking a shot from Evegeni Malking on the PK during the second period – the B’s foiled all six Penguins’ power plays, including one each in overtime and double overtime.

The Bruins have not been much better, though; they are 0-10 on the power play in the series.

BETWEEN THE PIPES: Both Rask and Tomas Vokoun played extremely well in Game Three. Rask made 53 saves and, once again, gave the Penguins fits trying to solve him. Vokoun had a great bounce back game after being pulled in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury during Game Two. Vokoun stopped 38 of the Bruins’ 40 shots.

“He's just been very focused and very confident and [it] seems to be building all the time,” said Julien of Rask. “It's nice to see that [Wednesday].  Like I said, first period wasn't a bad period.  It was pretty even.  But the second and third is where he really came up big for us and continues to do that, and that's how we continue to win games.”

LOOSE ENDS: The Bruins played the 20th multiple-overtime game in their history in Game Three; it was the seventh longest game in club history at 35:19 of overtime play...Patrice Bergeron’s winning goal was his third career overtime goal and second this postseason (Game Seven, Toronto)...Zdeno Chara played a mammoth 42:05 in Game Three, with Dennis Seidenberg right behind at 39:54 and David Krejci coming in at 35:46...Johnny Boychuk and Brad Marchand each tallied a team-high six shots on goal...Milan Lucic delivered a game-high eight hits...Patrice Bergeron had an uncharacteristic night at the faceoff dot, winning just 13 of 35 draws, for a 37 percent success rate...As a team, the Bruins lost 43 percent of the faceoffs, just the fourth time in 15 games this postseason they have been under 50 percent...

INJURIES: Campbell is the only injury for the Bruins. He was lost for the remainder of the playoffs with a broken right fibula, suffered after he laid out and blocked the shot from Malkin in Game Three.

Julien would not say who will replace Campbell in the lineup, but said, “we've got lots of options” and that a decision would be made tomorrow prior to Game Four.

“You get that from him every game,” Julien said of Campbell’s effort. “That's the kind of player he is.  He's a real dedicated individual to his work and to his game, from off ice, to on ice, to taking care of himself, demeanor, everything else.  What he did yesterday surprised a lot of people but it didn't surprise us because that's just who he is, stay in there and make sure he finishes his shift. 

“As a coach you probably wish he would have stayed down, but that's not his job.”

Kaspars Daugavins, Carl Soderberg, Jay Pandolfo, and Jordan Caron are some of the possible candidates Julien could consider to replace Campbell.

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