MONTREAL - What's greater?
The desire to win or the fear of losing?
That question will get answered Tuesday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal as the Boston Bruins, who couldn't close a book last spring, try to finish off the Montreal Canadiens, who five times refused to lose in similar situations a year ago.
Losses and lessons from the past can be pretty good motivation.
Ask Canadiens forward Scott Gomez.
"I finally just got over this pitch I threw this kid," the 31-year-old was saying Monday. "He hit a home run off me because I basically aimed the ball because I was so scared. That loss I finally got it over with."
How old was he when that happened?
"I think I was 11," Gomez said. "We had the game right there in the seventh and we lost in extra innings. I aimed the ball instead of firing it and he hit a home run off me."
Well, at least it took only 20 years.
Guess losing to the Bruins, whom the Canadiens trail 3-2, wouldn't go over too well, either.
Montreal forward Mathieu Darche, who had a great chance to win Game 5 in Boston in the second overtime, replayed the opportunity "about 150 times in my head" and went straight to his computer after getting home from Boston in the wee hours Sunday morning.
"That night it took me half an hour or 45 minutes to fall asleep and that's after we got home at three in the morning," the 34-year-old said. "I had to look at it again."
Avoiding that feeling, whether it's a bad pitch as an 11-year-old or a missed chance as a 34-year-old, can be a pretty good motivator.
"It's our Game 7. Nobody wants to go home," said Gomez, who is one of the Habs who needs to ramp up his game. "We're ready. The place is going to be rocking and it's just 'let it all out.' It's a big moment for us."
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price will be out to snap a seven-game playoff losing streak at the Bell Centre.
Habs rookie defenceman P.K. Subban said that will happen.
"That's the playoffs. That's hockey. Some things you just can't explain," Subban said of his friend's streak. "That's a stat that you can't really look at. He has played so well for us. He has been our best player every night. Both the games we had in our building, we had chances to win those games. They were close games and they could have gone either way. He has had outstanding performances for us here so I don't think that's a problem.
"We'll get that win (Tuesday)."
The Canadiens got themselves out of 3-1 and 3-2 holes last spring against the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively, last spring, winning Game 6 on home ice in both cases.
It's not like the Habs have done a lot wrong in this series. They are tied in goals (12-12) and have lost the past two games in overtime. That said, the Bruins -- who became just the third team in history to lose a series after leading 3-0 last spring against the Philadelphia Flyers -- have found a way to win the past three games.
"It's a great series. It has just been so weird," Gomez said. "It's whoever is going to get that little break or bounce. It's great for hockey. It's fun for us.
"They threw the last punch and now we've got to come right back. Our goal is to get right back to Boston. If you look at the season and you looked at the teams, this is kind of what it boils down to. It's two teams that are not going to give in. The only thing we're thinking about is going back to Boston."
And not that pitch as an 11-year-old.