After four hard-fought playoff games the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens are back to square one - a situation that will change Saturday evening.
If the Habs are supposed to be tense because they've let a 2-0 series advantage slip away at home, somebody forgot to tell them.
At their pre-game skate at the TD Banknorth Garden, the Canadiens were typically high-spirited, and the joking continued in the dressing room.
When defenceman Hal Gill was asked whether goalie Carey Price's invitation to "cowboy up" - which was the catch-phrase for the 2003 Boston Red Sox - was a way for the young goalie to throw the expression back at Beantown fans, he said: "Is he that smart? I don't know."
Chuckles all around.
But for all the looseness in both the Montreal and Boston rooms (the Bruins' Milan Lucic, a Vancouver native, jokingly lamented the recent play of his childhood team, the Canucks), there is something quite considerable at stake.
The Bruins have yet to win a series in which they've trailed 0-2 in their franchise's history, but becoming the first home team to win a game in this series would put them on the verge of doing it.
"It was a tough battle to get ourselves back in the series, it's going to be even tougher to get the next win," Lucic said.
And the hulking forward, who has had a quiet series, is keen to make his mark.
"I'm not happy with the way I've been playing, I can obviously bring a lot more," he said.
Both teams are going to want to get out to quick starts - the team scoring the first goal has won three of the four games to this point.
That's a league-wide trend to this point in the post-season: of the 35 games played, 29 have been won by the team scoring first.
And as Gill said earlier in the week, the road team has also had a sizable advantage: only 14 games have been won by the home team.
It might explain why the Canadiens can afford to feel jokey.Report Typo/Error