– With his team facing elimination on the road, Boston center Patrice Bergeron
chose an opportune time to come up with his best game of this Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Bergeron set up the game's first goal 2:01 into the first period and made another slick pass to put his team up 3-1 when Carolina was inching back. He also was an important penalty killer and led all Bruins forwards in ice time in their 4-2 victory at the RBC Center that will send this series back to Boston for Game 7.
"To me, it was a huge game at both ends of the ice," Boston coach Claude Julien
said of Bergeron. "He was outstanding in the penalty kill. In the forecheck, he was determined to make plays. He had a couple of assists.
"It was probably, without a doubt, his best game of the series."
After playing only 10 games in 2007-08 as a result of a frightening hit from behind by Philadelphia's Randy Jones
that resulted in a serious concussion, the 23-year-old again had a scary moment this season. Coincidentally, it was against these same Carolina Hurricanes
, as defenseman Dennis Seidenberg
caught him in the head with a shoulder on somewhat of a freak play on Dec. 20, causing Bergeron to remain sidelined with a concussion until Jan. 27.
He has remained injury-free since. In Game 6, the Bruins not only needed his contributions to stay alive, but with No. 1 center Marc Savard
playing only 1:14 in the third period after suffering a knee-on-knee hit from Chad LaRose
, the Bruins were down a man at that position (Julien said Savard would be OK for Game 7 and wanted to rest him.)
"I'm always trying to help the team win as much as I can in any way I can and to do it offensively, I'm happy to do that." -- Patrice Bergeron
Bergeron filled in ably, finishing plus-2 in 20:32. In particular, Carolina was awarded two power plays only 2:35 apart midway through the third period. Boston killed both, however, with Bergeron logging 1:36 of those four minutes.
On Julien's team, Bergeron is not asked to put up the 70-point seasons that he has twice in the past. Instead, he centers the third line with Mark Recchi
and Chuck Kobasew
– both of whom scored on Tuesday at the end of passes from Bergeron.
"I'm always trying to help the team win as much as I can in any way I can and to do it offensively, I'm happy to do that," Bergeron said.