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Bruins hoping to make franchise history in Game 7 @NHL

WILMINGTON, Mass. (AP) - The Boston Bruins left for Montreal on Sunday hoping to make franchise history by completing a comeback from a 3-1 deficit to the Canadiens.

The Bruins are 0-20 in playoff series they have trailed 3-1, and this is the first time they have forced a Game 7 in that situation. Boston, which hasn't won a playoff series since 1999, has never come back from a 2-0 deficit, either.

The Bruins can change that with a win Monday night in the finale of their first-round Eastern Conference series against top-seeded Montreal.

"Obviously, we have the confidence of knowing we can beat these guys, that's how I look at things," Bruins coach Claude Julien said at the team's practice facility Sunday before the eighth-seeded Bruins headed north.

Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau rested his players Sunday, with only those Canadiens that didn't play in Saturday night's game taking part in an afternoon practice at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens are 26-0 in playoff series they have led 3-1. The Bruins won 5-4 at home on Saturday night to force Game 7.

"You know, it really is a one-game situation," Julien said. "I always go back to the Super Bowl, where the Patriots were by far a favored team (over the Giants), but unfortunately it's a one-game situation. ... It's a tossup - flip a coin and you gotta hope the hockey gods are on your side, you get the breaks and that's what it boils down to in Game 7."

Julien was behind the bench when the lower-seeded Canadiens rallied from a 3-1 deficit and beat Boston in 2004, winning Game 7 on the road. That was the 20th and most recent time in NHL history a team came back to win after being down 3-1. On Friday, the New Jersey Devils became the 204th team unable to do it when they were eliminated by the New York Rangers.

"Well, we've just got to make sure that it won't happen again," Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said.

History doesn't seem to faze these Bruins, who have beat the odds to get to this point. They went 0-7-1 against their No. 1 rivals during the regular season and lost the first two games of the playoff series to extend their losing streak against Montreal to 13 games, dating back to the 2006-07 season.

Now it comes down to one game at the rowdy Bell Centre, where the Bruins faced elimination in Game 5 and won.

"I think we'll be excited," Canadiens center Bryan Smolinski said. "We're anxious to play, especially the way the last few games have gone. You're anxious to start, but actually you've got to have some controlled emotion and basically worry about yourself."

Even so, it could be the Canadiens who are feeling the pressure.

"We have to play with more urgency in our zone, in the neutral zone and in their zone," Carbonneau said. "They lost 13 games in a row so they had to change something so they decided to forecheck hard and it worked, but we also had control of the puck a lot last night and we just gave it away. We have to make better plays. If we play better in the neutral zone then they won't have two guys forechecking."

Boston defenseman Aaron Ward, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with Detroit and Carolina, believes the Bruins' situation is different because nothing was expected of them.

"We were a team that started the season (picked) 30th out of 30, we were lucky to get ourselves into the playoffs," he said. "I think there were some people who thought that, having gone through that, we might just check out."

Julien, in his first year as the Bruins' coach, says his players didn't need to be pushed into winning Games 5 and 6.

"I tell you what, these guys deserve a lot of credit and they are going to get it from me," Julien said. "I think they've been absolutely great. They haven't needed the rah-rah from their coach."

The players might also give the coach some credit.

He reinserted Phil Kessel into the lineup after he sat for three games and Kessel responded with three goals in the two wins.

Notes: Julien said he would not hesitate to insert Patrice Bergeron - out since suffering a severe head injury on Oct. 27 - into the lineup for Game 7 if Bergeron is cleared by doctors. But Bergeron, who has been skating and practicing, said there is no indication that will happen. He's hoping there is a next round for him to play in. ... Bruins goalie Tim Thomas played the last five minutes or so of Saturday night's win with the chin cup of his mask in his mouth because of a broken strap. ... The Bruins are 9-7 in Game 7s, winning six of their last seven. But they have only played in one since 1994, losing that one to Montreal in '04. This will be only the fourth Game 7 on the road for the franchise.


AP freelance writer Sean Farrell in Montreal contributed to this report.

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