RALEIGH — With 9:14 remaining in tonight’s Game 6 of the Boston Bruins’ Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center, and Hurricanes forward Erik Cole going less than full speed toward him on the forecheck, Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman shot the puck straight into the stands.
The delay-of-game penalty put the Bruins back on the penalty kill just 35 seconds after they’d completed a two-minute kill. The club was still up two goals but that didn’t make it any easier for the veteran blueliner.
“I can’t even hit the glass right now,” Wideman said with a laugh after the Bruins hung on for a 4-2 win and forced a Game 7 Thursday. “That’s probably only the second time all year I tried to use the glass and I shot it over it. I couldn’t even look. If they had scored that it would’ve been, what, five minutes left with a one-goal lead. So that was huge for them to pick me up there.”
The Bruins picked up Wideman in a big way, despite playing down to just four penalty-killing forwards. With Blake Wheeler a healthy scratch and Marc Savard in the dressing room with an injury, Patrice Bergeron, Stephane Yelle, David Krejci and P.J. Axelsson had to get the job done.
“Again, it was a group effort. (Goaltender) Timmy (Thomas) made some big plays on some of those opportunities. Our guys just beared down. … It was up to the other guys to come up with a good follow-up shift. But again, I’m proud of the way guys sucked it up in different situations,” said head coach Claude Julien, whose team has now killed off all eight Carolina power plays it has faced the last two games. “We got short our penalty-kill guys. But guys sucked it up and held on. The draws were important for us tonight. We won some big draws at the right times. So all these kind of things went hand in hand.”
Prior to Wideman’s penalty, defenseman Steve Montador had spent two minutes in the box for a boarding call that Tuomo Ruutu might have turned into. Regardless, Thomas and his teammates knew they needed to avoid letting up in their efforts to force Game 7.
“That’s the way hockey and a lot of sports are. You look at the scoreboard and you can say, ‘OK, 4-2 with nine minutes left.’ It should be easy, but it’s not,” said Thomas. “Watch Chicago coming back (Monday) against Vancouver and I don’t know if it was Washington or Pittsburgh that came back (Monday in Game 6), I can’t remember because that was such a crazy game.
“But we’ve got to keep going. We got a couple penalties there and as a goalie, you always want to kill those penalties off for the guys that get them because they’re not trying to get them. … You really want to kill those off for the team but also for them.”
Wideman was grateful and so are the Boston fans, who now get to witness a Game 7 at TD Banknorth Garden.