By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- The Boston Bruins are undefeated in playoff series with Patrice Bergeron as their captain.
That is a slightly skewed sample size, sure. Yet after their Game 5 win on Sunday night to eliminate the Capitals and move on to the second round, Bergeron's impact was impossible to miss in the 3-1 victory.
Bergeron stepped into the Washington zone late in the second period, fired a perfect shot, and delivered what proved to be the game-winning goal in the clinching victory:
He later added a critical insurance goal when he deftly read the intentions of T.J. Oshie, anticipated a pass, intercepted said pass, and then immediately unleashed yet another perfect shot for his second goal of the night.
Bergeron was tied for the team lead with three goals in the series, but that obviously wasn't the only way he's led the team. After sitting in line behind Zdeno Chara for the captaincy for well over a decade, Bergeron finally got the "C" on his chest for this strange and unique season. That Chara was on the losing end of this series just made the moment all the more memorable.
The Bruins, quite obviously, were happy to have guaranteed themselves some well-earned rest and a ticket to the second round of the playoffs. But they were also happy for their captain.
"Certainly a guy that has led this team for a lot of years, and this is his first year with the C on it. So you know he wants to sort of put his signature on this club, regular season and now obviously the playoffs. So I'm sure he's going a little bit, digging a little deeper -- if that's possible for him," head coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Cassidy added: "We could talk about him all day. So I'm happy to see him get his first series win as a captain."
Cassidy also credited Bergeron with "pulling Pasta along," noting that David Pastrnak's "details were better" in the series vs. Washington.
"It's incredible. He's been a leader since I got here [in 2014]," said Pastrnak, who scored the Bruins' first goal of the night with an absolutely absurd highlight-reel play. "He's been unbelievable. I'm really happy for him and hopefully we won't stop there."
In this particular game, Bergeron was named the second star of the evening. It was Tuukka Rask, the third-longest tenured Bruins player, who earned the top spot, for his 40-save performance.
And after earning his 55th career playoff victory, Rask spoke about the leadership qualities of Bergeron -- characteristics that were present in the 35-year-old.
"He's been one of our many leaders for years now. Now he just has the captain's letter on his chest. He hasn't changed at all," Rask said. "I think everybody knows what kind of player and a person he is, especially in a clutch game like tonight. Nobody should be surprised that he scored a goal or two. He's been, like I said, our leader for many years. He hasn't done anything out of the ordinary. I think he just wants to be himself, lead vocally and by example, and he's done that all year and even in the playoffs."
As for the man himself, Bergeron was asked to describe how he felt after winning his first playoff series with the C on his chest.
"I don't know. I feel like we're a team where it feels special to win together, everyone chipping in and contributing. I've said it all along, I've had a great leadership group and core that we're really close to each other and we rely on each other as well to lead. I haven't really thought about it. That's a good question. I'm just happy we got the win and we'll finish it off and we can look forward and move on to round two."
From here, of course, the victories only get tougher. The ecstasy of Sunday night is only guaranteed to last for a night or two at most.
But as the Bruins move forward, saying farewell to their former captain in the process, there's no doubt that the entire organization holds the highest level of confidence and respect for their current captain in Patrice Bergeron.
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