BOSTON — Embarrassing.
That was the word the Bruins used over and over again to describe Tuesday’s 9-2 loss to the L.A. Kings.
“I feel like we got absolutely embarrassed,” said Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. “Obviously they played a really good game, but we had nowhere near the game that we needed to play and it was embarrassing.
“There’s obviously things that are going to stay inside this locker room, but basically, we need to be better. We need to perform better. We’ve had a few stretches that we played well [this season]; we won some tight games and big games, and then we were facing some challenges, or some teams that are on top of the league, and we didn’t follow up with the performances that we had previous games. That’s, again, tonight’s case. So yeah, it was embarrassing.”
BOSTON — When Milan Lucic returns to the TD Garden ice for the first time as a member of the opposing team, he has no idea what type of reception he will receive.
He’s certainly put some thought into it — and of course, he hopes it’s a good reception — but he has no idea.
“I’ve actually thought about it a lot, especially in the last week, and what it’s going to be like,” Lucic said after the L.A. Kings skated at the Garden in preparation for Tuesday’s game against Boston. “I felt like I had a really good relationship with the fans, and we’ll see what the reception here is like tonight.
“I know when Gregory Campbell came back, he got a real great reception for what he did here, so we’ll see what it’s like here tonight.”
By all indications, Lucic’s should be just as rousing as the one Campbell received a couple of weeks ago.
BOSTON — The Bruins didn’t like the way they went into the All-Star Break, but they like the way they have returned from it.
Since ending their pre-break schedule with a disappointing 6-2 loss to Anaheim, Boston has earned five of a possible six points against Toronto and Buffalo. The B’s have moved into third place in the Atlantic Division and fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and they find themselves just a single point behind the third-place Rangers.
If they earn another two points against Los Angeles on Tuesday night at TD Garden, they could pull themselves back up to .500 at home before they head out on a season-long six-game road trip.
“We’ve gotten five out of six points after the break, so it would be nice to finish strong and get seven out of eight and go on the long road trip,” said forward David Krejci following Monday’s practice at TD Garden. “It’s going to be a big game for us. [The Kings] have a really good team. They’re big and strong. We have to bring our A game.”
BOSTON — The stage was set for the dramatics.
Brad Marchand, owner of eight goals in his previous eight games, drew a penalty shot with 2:28 remaining in overtime. With the opportunity to send the Bruins home with their second straight win over Buffalo, he picked up the puck at center ice, took it to the net, pump-faked twice and got Sabres goalie Robin Lehner to bite — then roofed it.
“I kind of talked to a guy this summer, and he said something that stuck with me – that the ceiling is what you make it,” Marchand said following Boston’s 2-1 overtime win over Buffalo on Saturday. “If you believe that you can hit a certain point, then that’s what you’re going to hit. If you believe there’s no ceiling, then you can only improve. So that’s what I’ve been trying to go by this year, and hopefully it will continue.”
BOSTON — The Bruins are plenty familiar with what the Buffalo Sabres will bring to the table at TD Garden on Saturday night.
They’ve already faced Buffalo three times this season, but moreover, the last time was a mere two days ago, back at the First Niagara Center, when the Bruins pulled out a hard-fought, come-from-behind 3-2 shootout victory.
“It was a tough game,” said forward David Krejci following Saturday’s optional morning skate. “We won it in [a shootout], so it wasn’t an easy win, but I really like the way we played — a full 60 minutes, high intensity, and the execution in the second and third period was pretty good.
“We have to play the same way today again — full 60 minutes, play really hard, put pucks deep, work them down low. That’s what we’re practicing the last few days. That’s the only way we can beat these guys.”
WILMINGTON — The intent heading into Thursday’s game against Buffalo was clear: The Bruins needed two points, by any means necessary.
Coming off a disappointing effort against Toronto two nights earlier in which the Bruins felt they let two points get away, they couldn’t make the same mistake twice, especially against another divisional opponent.
So they put their workboots on and they got the job done.
“I think we played a pretty full 60,” said forward Brett Connolly following Friday’s brief practice at Ristuccia Arena. “I think we got down by a couple goals, but we obviously didn’t stray away from our gameplan. I thought for the most part, it was a good game, and we’re looking to do that again tomorrow.”
BUFFALO — The Bruins needed a shootout to edge the Sabres in Buffalo on Thursday night, but it didn’t matter.
The 3-2 win gave them two prime points.
“It was a very tight game, right from the bat,” said Tuukka Rask, who made 26 saves on 28 shots in the victory. “I think it was a good up and down game. Both teams had some offensive zone time with some chances and you really had to fight for every inch on the ice there.”
“I mean, you can’t be looking at the standings anymore because every team’s good and Buffalo’s a good team and they showed it today, so thankfully we got the win.”
Buffalo was coming off a 4-1 come-from-behind win in Montreal the night before.
They grabbed a 2-0 lead early in the second, when Sam Reinhart scored just 47 seconds into the period, following up Evander Kane’s first period tally.
“Nobody panicked and everybody continued to compete,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “The passes and execution just got better and our game got better as well — so I liked our game.”
BUFFALO — Jonas Gustavsson traveled with the Bruins to Buffalo, and has been cleared to play.
The announcement from the Bruins came on Thursday morning.
"The final testing is complete and all results have been reviewed by the Bruins Medical Staff,” the team’s press release said. “Jonas has been cleared to resume full on-ice participation with the team without any restrictions."
“He’s fully cleared and so it’s good to have him back,” Head Coach Claude Julien said after Thursday’s pregame skate, which Gustavsson participated in.
The netminder had been back skating since Monday. He left the Bruins’ game against Anaheim on Jan. 26 after the first period for precautionary reasons, due to an elevated heart rate.
WILMINGTON — In Claude Julien’s eyes, the difference between one point against Toronto on Tuesday night and two points boiled down to something very simple.
“It’s called focus,” he said following Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “We kind of lose track of that at times, and get away from things that we used to do well to make us successful.”
On Tuesday night, the Bruins faced an unfortunately familiar narrative. They took a two-goal lead into the third period, only to squander it by the frame’s end.
On Tuesday, that lack of focus in the third period cost them, as they ultimately fell 4-3 in overtime. It’s happened too frequently over the course of this season, and the entire roster echoed that postgame. On Wednesday, it was right back to work, right back to finding ways to eliminate those lapses.
BOSTON — The Bruins struck twice in 26 seconds within the first 1:21 of the third period to take a 3-1 lead over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.
The game seemed in hand, once again, on home ice.
But a quick pair of Toronto goals midway through the third made it a 3-3 game. The Leafs would take the game, 4-3, in overtime.
It marked the Bruins’ second straight loss, though the most recent defeat came a week ago on Jan. 26 before the NHL’s All-Star Break.
They had won five of seven games prior to that loss to Anaheim.
“Good teams, they put lots of games together, and it seems like we play two games good and then for a few games we let it slip away,” a frustrated David Krejci said postgame. “Obviously we have a long way to be a great team, so we have to learn from those mistakes.”