BEDFORD, Mass. - The Bruins know they have an opportunity on Monday night.
Sitting just one win away from a berth in the Eastern Conference Final after a thrilling 4-3 victory in Game 5 on Saturday night, Boston would like nothing more than to wrap up their best-of-seven, second-round series with a victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6 at Nationwide Arena.
"I think everyone's excited," Joakim Nordstrom said as he addressed reporters at Hanscom Air Force Base ahead of the Bruins' flight to Columbus on Sunday afternoon.
"I don't think anyone of us are looking further ahead than the game tomorrow night…we're just gonna approach this game the way we've approached the game's before this one. We know what's at stake."
On the line, of course, is a date with the Carolina Hurricanes in what would be the Bruins' first trip to the Eastern Conference Final since 2013. To get there, however, will be no easy task.
"It's a great opportunity," said Charlie Coyle. "They're gonna have their best game, their backs are against the wall. They're playing at home, they're gonna have a lot of energy and come out hard. We've got to do the same. We've got to continue to play our game.
"I still don't think we've played our best game yet. I think there's still things we can work on and do better. We'll watch video, get a practice in [on Monday morning] and get a chance to do that."
Video: Nordstrom speaks before flight to CBJ
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy hopes that his team, particularly its championship-winning core, will draw on previous experiences when realizing what it takes to close out a series that has been so tightly contested.
"The guys that have been through it [know] what it takes and how important it is," said Cassidy. "The last one to win is generally the toughest, that's my experience. We've got to make sure we're ready to play. We don't want to overthink it either. It's what we've been doing. On-time start, we've been a good first-period team. Extend the lead when you can.
"I know it sounds simple, but that is your formula as the game goes on. That's what it has to be [in Game 6]. Obviously we want to get it done as quickly as we can. That's stating the obvious. They want to survive, so it should be a good one."
McAvoy Doing "Fine"
Cassidy said that he believes Charlie McAvoy is "fine" after the blue liner blocked a shot with his right foot in the final seconds of Boston's Game 5 victory. McAvoy hobbled to the bench after the block, but assured the media postgame that he was feeling OK.
"Until he gets on the ice tomorrow - nobody skated today - then we'll know for sure. But I don't anticipate he'll have any problems playing," said Cassidy.
Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm5: McAvoy lays out to block Panarin's shot
Noel Acciari, meanwhile, did not play in Game 5 and has been termed day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
"We'll see how he is [on Monday]," said Cassidy. "Getting back on the ice in the morning should give us a much better idea."
After struggling to get much past Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky through the first three games of the series, the Bruins seem to have found a formula for success during Games 4 and 5, notching four goals in each contest. Boston believes that the uptick in offense is as simple as bearing down more in the dirty areas.
"He's a great goalie," said Charlie Coyle. "He's come up huge on a number of occasions. A good goalie like that, you want to take away his eyes and make sure [to have] second, third, fourth efforts. It's usually not that first one that goes in, just going to the net. We had a couple pretty 3-on-2's, that winning [David Pastrnak] goal, those are nice."
Video: Coyle speaks before flight to CBJ
It wasn't just McAvoy and Brandon Carlo representing Boston's young defense corps with fine performances in Game 5. Fellow youngster Connor Clifton also impressed with a critical play on Brad Marchand's second-chance tally early in the third period.
Clifton corralled a puck following a Patrice Bergeron's faceoff win and activated by carrying it down the wall and into the left-wing corner. The 24-year-old then turned towards the net and delivered a nifty feed through the crease to Marchand at the left post, where the winger ripped it home on his second attempt to give Boston a 2-0 lead at 4:51 of the third.
"Got out for an offensive zone draw, that was exciting," said Clifton, whose helper was the first postseason point of his career. "The play was supposed to be to [Torey Krug], it came to my side and I hear Pasta yelling, 'Go, go,' so I just brought it low and Marchy was open back door so it worked out."
Cassidy noted that a play like that, with a defenseman making a play from the goal line, is part of the trend towards a more offensive-minded NHL.
"That's the new NHL. We're trying to build that in every day without being reckless," said Cassidy. "You see the game opening up a little bit, that's usually because the D are involved both ways. Clifton made a heck of a play on that face-off. If he gets trapped down there and they break out and come back at us 2-on-1 we're not as happy are we?
"It's fine to get D involved, we encourage it…but it's about execution too. If you're executing well then it really looks good. If you get stuck down there and you're not executing it can look bad. "
Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm5: Marchand nets own rebound to pad lead
Doing His Job
David Backes once again made an impact, despite playing limited minutes alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. Backes, who also picked up a helper in Game 4, was critical in producing Boston's opening goal, forcing a turnover high in the Bruins' end and charging up the left wing.
The winger then dropped a pass to DeBrusk, who found Krejci with a cross-ice feed through the slot. Krejci finished it off by flipping one past Bobrovsky to put Boston up, 1-0, at 1:39 of the second.
"It's good, he's got good hands," said Cassidy, who deployed Backes for 9:34 during Game 5. "When he has the puck with time and space, he can make as good a plays as anybody. The league the way it is now is getting to that time and space. He's still banging out there…at the end of the day, he's given us good minutes.
"Could he play more? He'd probably tell you yeah. We're trying to balance it so we get maximum energy out of it because we do need the physical part of it if you're gonna get there and have the energy to get there.
"That's a bit of our thinking…he's doing a good job for us in his role and he's been rewarded offensively."
Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm5: Krejci goes five-hole for opening goal