- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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TAMPA, Fla. -- The Boston Bruins are one victory away from reaching the Stanley Cup finals.
That's it. Just one.
After training camp, the 2010-11 campaign began with a trip to Belfast, Ireland, and Prague. It was a grueling regular season. Boston faced a pair of tough opponents -- the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers -- in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs and are now up 3-2 over a talented Tampa Bay Lightning squad in the Eastern Conference finals.
Now, it all comes down to one victory for the Bruins.
If they can win Game 6 on Wednesday night at St. Pete Times Forum, the Bruins will earn a berth in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in more than 20 years.
Boston hasn't won the Cup since 1972.
The Bruins players believe this is the year.
"You've gotten to this point because you believe in what you do as a team," said veteran Mark Recchi, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991) and Carolina Hurricanes (2006). "We believe in what we do as a group.
"You've worked hard all year to get here, and if you don't believe in it, then you're not in that position. The guys are great and we know we got away with one [in Game 5], but at the same time we found a way to win. We have to be a lot better in Game 6 if we expect to finish this series."
The Bruins know that Tampa won't go quietly. Boston will need a quick start, similar to Game 4, when the Bruins gained a 3-0 lead in the first period only to see that advantage slip away as the Lightning mounted a comeback and won 5-3.
The Bruins need to come out in similar fashion, but keep the foot on the accelerator and end this series Wednesday night.
The encouraging thing for the Bruins is that the notion that they are a team of underachievers, the type of team that can't win big games when it counts, seems to have provided motivation for them this season. They've responded when needed, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"It's helps to know that you can do it," Recchi said. "We've done it the last couple of years, but we haven't been able to get to the position we're in now. We've got to find a way to play a great road game and see if we can finish this series."
How can that happen?
"We've got to be focused. We've got to be determined. We've got to be relaxed," Recchi said.
Boston trailed the Canadiens 2-0 in the quarterfinals, but countered and played solid hockey for the remainder of the series. The Bruins had a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 at Montreal, but failed to end the series. They returned home and closed out the series with a dramatic 4-3 overtime win in Game 7.
That series set the tone for the conference semifinals because once the Bruins were able to get their hands on the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston stifled its opponent and swept the series in four games.
Now the Bruins need to learn from the earlier matchups and prevent this series from going seven games.
"It's good that we've done it, but then I have to go back to what I've been preaching all along -- you don't want to rely on the past," Julien said. "You want to do what you have to do tomorrow, but knowing that you have done it before is something that can certainly give you some confidence.
"We still have to be able to repeat it. If you rely on the past, it's not going to take you too far, but if you're willing to do it, and tomorrow we need to be a team willing to do it, we're going to be fine."
The Lightning also can draw on the fact that they have been in this situation before. Tampa Bay didn't panic when it trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.
Most everyone in the hockey world expected the conference finals to go the distance, and it still could. But the Bruins would be wise to end this series Wednesday night.
Tampa coach Guy Boucher realizes his players need to play desperate hockey.
"If you focus on the process and you are calm about it, that means you're going to execute," Boucher said. "You give yourself a chance. And that's what we're looking at."
The Bruins did not practice on Tuesday and when a few of the players met with the media, it was evident they were a focused group.
"They're going to do their best to bring their 'A' game," forward Rich Peverley said. "They've got Stanley Cup winners over there and they've been through this before. We're going to expect nothing but their best."
As much as the Bruins are living by the one-game-at-a-time philosophy, at this point of the playoffs they're also driven by the fact they are only one game, one victory from reaching the Stanley Cup finals.
All they need is one more victory.
Boston will get it in Game 6.
"It's exciting. We should be excited about this," Recchi said. "There's no pressure, just go and play your game. Lay it on the line and put everything you have into [Game 6] and if it doesn't happen, we'll get ready for Game 7."
Based on what the Bruins have been able to accomplish already during the Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston will erase any doubts and finish this series in six. There will be no Game 7.
"We're going to go out and enjoy it," Recchi added. "We're going to have fun with it. We need to really focus on what we do as a hockey club and see if we can end this thing. The guys are excited. It's a great opportunity, and we know that."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
The Bruins have shown they can win the big game, and will do so in Game 6.