Scheduling conflicts forced the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins to play Games 5 and 6 back-to-back this weekend at TD Garden and then Verizon Center, but just about everyone involved brushed it off as any kind of a problem.
Dale Hunter even suggested it might be easier to play back-to-backs in the playoffs than during the regular season.
"That's the one thing about playoffs: Both teams are involved in it," he said Sunday afternoon before Game 6. "It's a level playing field that way, not like during the season sometimes you have a back-to-back and the other team doesn't. It will be a level playing field out there."
The teams were given a heads-up earlier in the week that both could be afternoon games, so they had an opportunity to prepare. The Caps were fortunate to enjoy balanced playing time in a 4-3 Game 5 victory at Boston, which Brooks Laich said helps.
Naturally, there's still some tiredness to fight through.
"I think both teams are probably a little fatigued," forward Matt Hendricks said. "The bumps and bruises have been taking a toll throughout the series."
Joel Ward called it "just another day," but it was more notably the first elimination game in the series.
And though players don't want to act like they're tired, Karl Alzner said the key was simple.
"I think it's hiding it a bit," he said.
Bergeron in, Corvo out
Patrice Bergeron took a big hit from Alex Ovechkin in Game 5, and his status was a mystery until pregame warm-ups Sunday. But the Bruins center who could be a finalist for the Selke Trophy given to the NHL's best defensive forward was in the lineup.
"He is one of our best draw guys and one of our best offensive-defensive guys," Boston forward Benoit Pouliot said Saturday.
Bergeron was not taking draws despite finishing the regular season second in the NHL in faceoff percentage, likely because of the injury.
Ex-Caps defenseman Joe Corvo, who left Saturday's Game 5 after being hit with a shot, did not play for Boston and was replaced by veteran Mike Mottau.
Green breaks through
Back to 100 percent after ankle and groin injuries derailed much of his regular season, Mike Green didn't seem to mind that he wasn't producing offensively. The defenseman said last week this was the best he has felt in two years.
"There's not that pressure that you have to score and that's the bottom line," he said. "I think that it's about playing solid and playing your position and Dale enforces that."
Sunday in Game 6, Green finally broke through. Making a play Caps fans are used to seeing, he controlled the puck in open space and fired a shot that deflected off the Bruins' Greg Zanon and past Tim Thomas.
It was his first goal since Oct. 22 and his third point in 30 games under Hunter.
• Center Mathieu Perreault was scratched for the second straight game. He was slashed late in Game 4 on Thursday, but Hunter insisted Perreault was "fine."
• One game after Michal Neuvirth returned to backup duty for the Caps, Tuukka Rask returned to the bench for Boston. He had been out with a groin/lower abdominal injury.
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