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Playoff field pared to final two on 'Quest For The Stanley Cup'

Euphoria of Bruins, Blues matched by disappointment of Hurricanes, Sharks @NHLdotcom

QFTSC: Backes FaceTimes his fam

Quest For The Stanley Cup: David Backes phones home

Watch episode four of "Quest For The Stanley Cup" Friday, May 24th, on ESPN+, exclusively on ESPN+ in the U.S. and on in Canada

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All hockey players have two families -- the one they play with and the one they live with. Forward David Backes is trying to help his hockey family, the Boston Bruins, sweep the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final. But he's also a husband and a father, and before the potential series-clincher he uses FaceTime to connect with his wife and children from his hotel room in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"I feel like the family is kind of your anchor. It's something that's consistent; they're always there for you, they're always looking forward to seeing you when you're coming home," Backes says during the fourth installment of "Quest For The Stanley Cup," which debuts Friday at 6 p.m. ET exclusively on ESPN+ in the United States and in Canada and provides an inside look at the players and coaches from the remaining four teams in this year's playoffs.

"The hockey is a roller coaster; you win one, you feel like you're on top of the world. You lose one and you feel like kind of it's ending," Backes says. "You need that consistent presence in your life, and for me that's my kids, my family."

But his hockey family is also important to Backes, especially with the Bruins one win away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2013.

"It's a special group," he says. "We've always got each other's backs, and we're playing for the guy next to us. That seems to be a common thread for championship teams. You hear it on TV, but until you're part of it you don't know what that special feeling really is. This group has been working toward that, and now we're putting that into practice."

Everything goes right for the Bruins in Game 4, a 4-0 victory that completes a sweep of the surprising Hurricanes, who reached the NHL's final four after not making the playoffs since 2009. It's a disappointment for first-year coach Rod Brind'Amour, but he also knows how far his team has come.

Video: Quest For The Stanley Cup: Chara drives to bus stop

"It stings right now," he says. "This is a super group. We overachieved. Take the whole picture of what went on here and it's pretty impressive."

Players aren't the only ones who warm up before games. Prior to Game 4 of the Western Conference Final between the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks at Enterprise Center, Charles Glenn tunes up before singing the national anthem -- something he's done at Blues games for nearly 20 years.

"When I started they had other anthem singers, but it got to the point where when I would sing they'd win. So, it got to be more of a habit," said Glenn, who is ringing down the curtain on his time with the Blues after this year's playoffs. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2011 and says the time has come to say his good-byes. 

"I figured this year would be a good year to say this is my last year," he says. "It won't be easy to step away, but when one door shuts, another one opens."

Glenn is not done just yet, though. After a 5-4 overtime loss at home in Game 3, the Blues even the best-of-7 series with a 2-1 victory in Game 4, then dominate the Sharks in a 5-0 win in Game 5 at San Jose. 

Back in St. Louis, the Blues score 1:32 into Game 6 and go on to a 5-1 victory, putting them into the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970. The final seconds are played to the chant of "We want the Cup," and in the locker room afterward, captain Alex Pietrangelo flips the game puck to fellow defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who will be making his first appearance in the Final after 16 seasons and 1,184 regular-season NHL games.

Video: Quest For The Stanley Cup: Glenn on singing for Blues

But for every winner, there's a loser. The euphoria of the Blues is matched by the emptiness of the Sharks, who must deal with the fact that the quest for their first Stanley Cup championship since entering the NHL 28 years ago is over. No one feels it more than forward Joe Thornton, who will turn 40 on July 2 and has played 21 NHL seasons without winning the Cup.

"He's the face, the heartbeat of the organization. We're disappointed for not helping him get there," coach Peter DeBoer says. "He gives you everything he's got, and he should be there, playing for the Stanley Cup. That's the disappointing part."

A downcast Thornton says he hasn't decided whether to play again next season. When asked for his thoughts about what could be his last chance for a championship, his only response is, "I don't know."

But the Bruins and Blues know where they'll be on Monday -- facing off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). 

The 16 teams that started the playoffs have been culled to two; however, only one will see its quest end with the opportunity to raise the Cup.

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