During the time of year when every game is pivotal, the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins are facing the kind of game that brings the most finality of any of them - they have to win, or their season is over.
A wild, back-and-forth series will come to its apex at TD Garden in Boston on Wednesday night as the Bruins and Capitals play Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Considering how evenly matched this series has been - three wins each, 14 goals each, goaltenders with sub-2.50 goals against averages - a highly-competitive final game is expected.
Game 7 has not been kind to the Capitals in their history, though. The franchise is 2-7 all time in them, including going 1-3 in Game 7's since 2008. Their lone win came that year, when Sergei Fedorov scored the game winner with less than 5 minutes left to eliminate the New York Rangers.
The only other Game 7 victory in Capitals history came in 1988, when Washington beat the Philadelphia Flyers at the Capital Centre to advance. The overtime goal in that game was scored by current Capitals head coach Dale Hunter.
One saving grace for the Capitals may be the Bruins' poor track record in Game 7 on home ice.
Before last season, the Bruins had lost four straight Game 7's at home, including elimination losses in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2010 at TD Garden.
"Both teams are equal coming in," Hunter told the Post earlier this week at practice. "You have to have fun with it. You have to enjoy it."
With a chance to eliminate the Bruins on home ice on Sunday, the Capitals fought back from one-goal deficits three times to force overtime, but Tyler Seguin's goal in the extra session kept Boston alive and sent the series back to their house.
"(We have to) to bring the best out of everybody," Bruins head coach Claude Julien told the Boston Globe. "Hopefully once that happens, we'll get the right result, and we'll carry forward with that group."
Capitals history in Game 7 (2-7)Date Opponent Final Score April 18, 1987 New York Islanders 3-2 L (4 OT) April 16, 1988 Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 W (OT) April 30, 1988 New Jersey Devils 3-2 L May 1, 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 L May 18, 1995 at Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 L April 22, 2008 Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 L (OT) April 28, 2009 New York Rangers 2-1 W May 13, 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2 L April 28, 2010 Montreal Canadiens 2-1 L