BOSTON -- It was a relaxed but cautious atmosphere at TD Garden on Thursday as the Bruins had a day off from practice but did meet with the media. The Bruins have a chance to close out their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Maple Leafs in Game 5 on Friday night at TD Garden.
After winning Games 3 and 4 in Toronto at a raucous Air Canada Centre, the Bruins weren't looking ahead to the second round Thursday.
"That last game could've gone either way," veteran forward Shawn Thornton said about Wednesday's 4-3 overtime win. "Yes, we're happy we won, but we're not getting ahead of ourselves by any means. They played good hockey. Even though we got the two wins, we're going to have to be better to close it out."
Thornton and the Bruins know it's never easy to eliminate a team in the playoffs. The toughest lesson came when they blew a 3-0 series lead over the Flyers and lost the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals in seven games.
"The last one is always the hardest one," Thornton said. "We've found that out the hard way and also been on the other end, too. But whenever someone's back is against the wall, you're going to get their best. They're a good team and it's been a great series so far. This next one is going to be tough and we need to be ready."
Thornton realizes that keeping an even-keel approach is crucial to the Bruins' chances of coming out with the fourth win in the series.
"Whoever gets the first goal, us or them, it is key to remain at a relatively even-keel state," Thornton said. "In my experience that's been huge. You don't get too high or too low. You don't hang your head high when you score or low when you don't. You just stick to the program."
Goalie Tuukka Rask, who made 45 saves in each of the past two games, agreed with his teammate.
"We have to play our game as we have in the last few games and not worry about closing the series," Rask said. "I think the results will come."
Head coach Claude Julien knows his team is ready for this challenge, and hopes they're up to the task ahead.
"You've got to play your best game because we know how hard it is to close," Julien said Thursday. "That's the thing -- you hope your players realize extremely well after all the experiences we've had throughout the years. We now know how hard it is to close and no reason for us to come out tomorrow and not play as hard, if not harder, than we did last night."