April 22, 2012

From zero to hero: Seguin's breakout saves B's season

By Jesse Connolly

Bruins winger Tyler Seguin (left) celebrates a goal with Patrice Bergeron during Game 6 against the Capitals. (Getty)

After leading the Bruins with 67 points during the regular season, Tyler Seguin was in the midst of crafting an unforgettable playoff story heading into a do-or-die Game 6 against the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately, it was a tale of colossal disappointment that the 20-year-old forward would have to live with for the entirety of the offseason and beyond.

With neither a goal nor an assist to his credit through Boston’s first five postseason contests, the wildly talented winger could’ve been one pointless effort away from putting the finishing touches on an extremely discouraging playoff showing.

Luckily for the Black and Gold, that wasn’t in the cards on Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center.

Seguin notched his first playoff point with an assist on Andrew Ference’s goal in the third period before silencing the packed house in D.C. in overtime. The speedy winger took a pass from Milan Lucic 3:17 into the extra session, broke in down the middle, waited out Braden Holtby and deposited the puck into the back of the net to give Boston a 4-3 win and force a Game 7 on Wednesday night.

“Yeah, I mean that’s the dream is to get those big goals and keep your team alive,” Seguin said. “I think looking back on my career so far this is probably one of my (greatest moments).”

With a team-high 21 shots in the series coming into Sunday, the chances had certainly been there for Seguin, especially in Game 5 back home when he narrowly missed putting a rebound past Holtby to get off the schnide.

“I thought yesterday he was a pretty good player,” coach Claude Julien said of Seguin’s performance in Game 5. “He missed that great opportunity to … the goaltender made a great save.  When those things start happening, you know it’s coming around. I thought he was skating extremely well tonight and used his speed and had a chance really to gain and to be able to skate for him to get that goal. 

“First of all, he made a great play on [Andrew] Ference’s goal and figured maybe jump on that, skate around their goaltender and finished it off.  It’s great to see a young player like that gain some confidence for him to come together down the stretch.”

For Sunday’s hero, it sure felt great, too.

“Yeah, I mean I think in this series we’ve had a lot of chances and opportunities and I haven’t been bearing down and finishing them off,” Seguin said. “It’s just really nice to get that feeling off your back.”

Now, the Bruins and Capitals will embark on a decisive seventh game on Wednesday after six hard-fought games that were all decided by a single goal.

“It’s been a great series,” Seguin said. “Washington’s a great team. We were battling and for whatever reason the game lasted and they didn’t make it easy on (us). You go the extra mile. Game 7 at the Garden is what we’ve been working for, home ice advantage, so we’re going to seize the opportunity.”

If he can bring to that same productivity to the table on Wednesday at the Garden and help the Bruins advance to the second round, you can say sayonara to any chance of Seguin’s 2012 postseason being categorized as a tragic tale.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.