BOSTON -- The last thing the Boston Bruins want is a return trip to the Motor City.
With a win a Game 5 on Saturday at TD Garden, the Bruins can clinch their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings. If Boston is able to win, the Bruins would face the Montreal Canadiens in the second round.
While that matchup could be a classic series, the Bruins remained focused on the task at hand.
"We look at it one game at a time," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "We know that tomorrow's win is just as important as the first three. But there is meaning to tomorrow's win and that's what is a little bit different. We can end it tomorrow, but the urgency still has to be there and the focus still has to be there."
Last spring, the Bruins were in a similar position with a 3-1 series lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Maple Leafs battled back to force a Game 7, before the Bruins ultimately won in historic fashion, scoring a pair of goals in 31 seconds in the final minute and a half of regulation to tie the score and force overtime. Boston won 5-4.
"You get these opportunities, and sometimes, it's more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge," Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. "You kind of start thinking about the end score of the game before the game even starts, and you kind of feel and hope that you get to do that. But I think we've learned over the years that it doesn't help us. We just have to focus on our job and the game itself and then the results will take care of themselves. I hope we learned from the past years and ready for tomorrow."
The Bruins understand the Red Wings remain a dangerous opponent, one that should not be taken lightly.
"We can learn a lot from last year," Julien said. "Obviously, you can look at whichever way you want. It doesn't mean just because it's happened before it has to be the same thing. There are different situations all the time.
"Right now, we have yet to lose respect for that team we are playing against. They have added some good players to their lineup last game. A guy like [Henrik] Zetterberg can only get better and his second game, better than he was in his first. So there's a respect factor there that we have to be really good tomorrow if we want to end the series. If not, then we're going back to their building and that's something we would prefer not to do."
After the Bruins and Red Wings split the first two games in Boston, the Bruins wanted to win both games in Detroit, something they were able to accomplish by beating the Red Wings, 3-0 and 3-2 (OT), respectively in Games 3 and 4 at Joe Louis Arena.
"We accomplished something on the road we really wanted to do," Rask said. "We have a chance to close the series at home. It's an opportunity we really have to use and won't be easy, but seeing how our game has improved during this series, it's a good sign, and I think coming home tomorrow, we just have to really focus on our start and try to get that lead and protect it."
GETTING THE NOD: Red Wings backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will make his second consecutive start, and will attempt to help his team stave off elimination. Starter Jimmy Howard missed Game 4 because of illness and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock announced Friday that Gustavsson will get the nod Saturday. He played well in his first Stanley Cup playoff game, finishing with 37 saves in Boston's 3-2 overtime win. Babcock said he did not know whether veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson, who has missed the last two games because of an injury, would return for Game 5. Alfredsson did practice with the team Friday.
LOOKING AHEAD: If the Bruins win Saturday, it will be the fifth time in Julien's seven seasons behind the Boston bench that the team advanced to at least the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Their next opponent would be the Montreal Canadiens, who completed a four-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning. If the Bruins lose on Saturday, they will return to Detroit on Monday for Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena.