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Crowds haven't helped Bruins or Canadiens

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins regained home-ice disadvantage in the NHL playoffs.

That's rIght, disadvantage.

The home team has lost all four games in the series with the Montreal Canadiens, so the Bruins can't rely on their seventh player -- the black-and-gold clad crowd -- in tonight's fifth game with the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series tied at 2.

"We've just got to keep getting better and not worry about where we're playing, but how we're playing," coach Claude Julien said Friday.

The raucous fans at the Bell Centre couldn't shake the Bruins focus when they overcame deficits of 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3 to even the series with a 5-4 overtime win on Thursday night. They sent those partisans home disappointed, knowing the Canadiens wasted a chance to take command of the series.

"There is a tendency when you're at home to try to put on a show for the home crowd," Boston goalie Tim Thomas said, "but sometimes that works against you over the course of a full 60 minutes."


Caps ready to move on

WASHINGTON -- Game Five was when it started to fall apart for the Washington Capitals last year. They came out sleepwalking and were down, 2-0, before the first period was 10 minutes old, the start of another spectacular playoff collapse to add to a dubious franchise legacy.

Unable to finish off an against-the-ropes opponent, the Capitals went on to blow a 3-1 series lead to the Montreal Canadiens and were eliminated after the first round of the playoffs. Settling things early is a recurrent problem in the nation's capital -- Washington hasn't won a series in fewer than seven games since 1998.

"We know all too well," forward Eric Fehr said Friday, "how difficult it is to get that last win."

It's a history that permeates the locker room, even as coach and players emphasize that every year's team is different and isn't beholden to the failures of the past. Headed into today's first round Game Five against the New York Rangers -- again as a top seed with a 3-1 series lead -- the Capitals tread the line between wanting to forget last year's disaster and the need to learn from it.


Around the rinks

*The Penguins could wrap up their series with the Lightning with a win this afternoon in Pittsburgh.

*The Sharks can wrap up their series with the Kings when they host Los Angeles in Game Five tonight.

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