The Chicago Blackhawks have been in this position before. But then again, so have the Boston Bruins.
After alternating wins in the first four games of the Stanley Cup Finals, Chicago was the first team to nab two wins in a row with a 3-1 grind-it-out victory over Boston to take a 3-2 series lead and move within one win of their second Stanley Cup championship in three years.
When Chicago last won the cup in 2010, the Blackhawks came home to the United Center for Game 5 with the series tied at two. And just like three years ago, they're leaving with a 3-2 series lead.
"It's not an easy series. Every game is right down to the wire," Chicago winger Patrick Sharp told NBC's Pierre McGuire after the game. "We played all season to have home ice. Game 5 at home with the series tied 2-2 is a huge opportunity for us. To win the game feels great."
Three years ago, Chicago ended up winning the Cup in their very next game.
Patrick Kane, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers, scored two goals, including the game-winner in front of 22,274 in attendance. It was the second game in a row that Kane was paired with Bryan Bickell and Jonathan Toews on a line.
He [Kane] gets excited playing with Bicks [Bickell] and Tazer [Toews], Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after the game. "They seem to read off each other. They scored two huge goals for us tonight."
Kane now has three goals and four points in his last two games with his new line. He only had one point through the first three games of the series.
But just like the Blackhawks, the Bruins are in familiar territory.
In 2011, when they last hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup, Boston went on the road in Game 5 with the series tied at two. And just like Saturday night, they lost that game to go down 3-2. But they rallied in Game 6 against the Vancouver Canucks to extend the series and won Game 7 on the road to win their first Stanley Cup since Bobby Orr was on the team in 1972.
So, with both of these teams in the same positions they were the last time they won the Cup, something's got to give.
Something that finally did give Saturday night was the health of two star players.
Toews didn't play a single shift in the third period after taking a big hit in the second period after rushing the puck toward the net. He was crushed going across the middle of the slot on a high hit by defenseman Johnny Boychuck, who shoved Toews in the head with his hands.
"It's been a war. It's been a battle. Relentless hockey," Quenneville said.
He said Toews has an upper-body injury and is hopeful that he can play in Game 6 on Monday in Boston. He didn't give any other details about the health of his captain, including if Boychuck's hit caused the injury, or whether it was a lingering problem that became too hard to play through.
But the Bruins couldn't take advantage of Toews' absence because their star center, Patrice Bergeron, was taken to a local hospital during the game "for observation."
Bergeron left the ice gingerly after what appeared to be an innocent rush to the net early in the second. He tried to give it a go a few minutes later but came off the ice quickly. The 2010 Selke Trophy winner only played 49 seconds in the second period.
"He's just getting evaluated right now, not much I can say about his situation," Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters. "It's an injury that I wasn't able to let him finish the game."
Kane got the Hawks on the board with a backhand 17:27 into the first period. A slapshot by Johnny Oduya broke the stick of Bruin Dennis Seidenberg, deflected off the stick of Toews and came right to Kane, who was stationed to the right of Tuukka Rask. Kane corralled the puck and tucked it into the net to make the Madhouse on Madison go wild.
His second goal in as many games wasn't enough, as he gave his team a two-goal lead 5:13 into the second off a rebound from a wrap-around chance by line mate Bryan Bickell. The goal capped off a pretty give-and-go between Bickell and Toews that started at the top of their offensive zone.
"Everyone wants to be that guy during big-time games," Kane told reporters after the game.
Bergeron, who usually matches up against that line, was out of the lineup at that point.
"Theres nothing we can do about it [Bergeron's injury]," Rask said. "We have to move on."
Zdeno Chara got the Bruins within one goal 3:40 into the third period with a rocket over the glove of Corey Crawford. The play was set up with a beautiful saucer pass by David Krejci over the stick of Niklas Hjalmarsson.
But that was all the offense Boston could muster, and David Bolland sealed the victory for Chicago with an empty-netter with 13 seconds to go. Bolland was able to retrieve the puck after Bruin defenseman Torey Krug was tripped at the blue line by Michael Frolik, but no penalty was called.
"We didn't have the best third period, but have a deep team," Sharp said. "We used everybody to protect that lead."
After giving up five goals and receiving a lot of scrutiny for his poor glove the last three days, Crawford made 25 saves and was solid all night.
"It was another hard-fought game," Crawford said. "[The criticism] doesn't really have an effect of what I do on the ice."
Carl Soderberg, who was inserted into the Bruins' lineup to replace Kaspars Daugavins, replaced Bergeron on his line with Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand. Jagr had a golden opportunity in the slot late in the third period, but shot right at Crawford and Boston didn't get another solid chance.Comment on this story
"We definitely missed him [Bergeron] in the third period, that's for sure," Krejci said.
After going 49 years without winning the Cup, the Hawks can win their second in three years on Monday night.
"One game away from the Stanley Cup feels great," Chicago center Andrew Shaw told John Forslund of the NHL Network after the game. "We got to go in and focus the same way we did tonight for next game."
Michael Smith is an intern in the news section of DeseretNews.com. A 2013 graduate of the University of Utah, he will be attending Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in the fall.