ST. LOUIS -- Charlie McAvoy is 21 years old. The Boston Bruins defenseman had never been here before, Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, facing elimination and yet still so close to winning it all.
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The Bruins had defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-1 at Enterprise Center on Sunday, forcing Game 7 in Boston on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). McAvoy's adrenaline was pumping, and he was trying to process everything.
"Like, I'm going through this, and it's my first Stanley Cup, and it's just a lot, you know?" he said. "Just being honest with you. Like, the emotions of all …"
"Like, I mean, crap," he said. "Like, it's a lot. Our backs are against the wall. You have so many mixed emotions. You do whatever it takes. This is your dream to win this thing, and when your backs are against the wall and you know they're one away, it hurts a little bit.
"But I think I got a different perspective when our guys stepped up and just talked."
Video: Can Jordan Binnington bounce back in Game 7?
Especially Patrice Bergeron in a pregame speech.
Bergeron is 33 years old. The forward has been here before, along with goalie Tuukka Rask, defenseman Zdeno Chara and forwards David Krejci and Brad Marchand.
In 2011, the Bruins were down 3-2 in the Cup Final to the Vancouver Canucks, who were one win from the first championship in their history, then at 40 seasons. Marchand scored the first goal at 5:31 of the first period. The Bruins went on to win 5-2 in Game 6 and 4-0 in Game 7.
The Bruins equipment staff put up pictures of the celebration in the locker room at Enterprise Center. One shows Bergeron holding a bottle of champagne while Marchand hoists the Cup in the locker room in Vancouver.
On Sunday, the Bruins were down 3-2 in the Cup Final to the Blues, who were one win from the first championship in their 51-season history.
More than 40,000 fans gathered outside for a watch party, so many the party reached capacity more than an hour before face-off. At roughly the same time Blues great Bob Plager closed an inspirational video on the scoreboard screen by saying, "Let's make history," Bergeron spoke in the Bruins locker room.
Asked what he told his teammates, Bergeron, with his typical calm, said, "We are in a situation that is everyone's childhood dream here, and we must realize it."
It had a profound effect.
"Growing up, every one of us shares the same dream," McAvoy said. "We were all a little kid once, and we all wanted this bad. And I think it was just an element of savoring this moment and not letting it end tonight. It was exactly what we needed. He stepped up, and we all … I mean, like, when he talks, you listen. That's the presence that he has."
Video: Boston responds in Game 6 with convincing win
Let's hope there is video.
"He's a legend," forward Jake DeBrusk said. "It was just what we all dream of doing. We're here for a reason. Everyone that plays hockey grows up and dreams of playing in this moment. Just pretty much something around those lines. To see him kind of set the tone that way made us all run through a wall."
Marchand scored the first goal, like he did in Game 6 in 2011, this time at 8:40 of the first period. The Bruins went on to win by almost the same score. Rask was excellent, making 28 saves. Chara, the captain, playing with a jaw guard after taking a puck in the face in Game 4, iced the game by scoring into an empty net.
"We're a family," McAvoy said. "We believe in each other, and we all love each other, and just the thought of it being over tonight was terrifying. We've come all this way. We come together when it matters, and I think tonight was just a good example of that.
"We're thankful. We're blessed with a chance to play in Game 7 now. It's going to be the same thing. It's a lot. It's a roller coaster, and you've just got to ride it."
There are more ups and downs to come. Now each team is facing elimination and one win from a championship. The Blues have been better on the road (9-3) than at home (6-7) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they've won two out of three in Boston in this series.
But the Bruins have Bergeron, Chara, Krejci, Marchand and Rask to help navigate the buildup to Game 7.
"I do believe that once the puck drops, you play," coach Bruce Cassidy said. "You execute, or you don't. You get a save. But those veteran guys can sure help you in the moments where you have a little bit of free time and maybe you think too much and you get in your way."
One team is about to realize the dream. Which will it be?
Listen: Game 7 preview from NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast