LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Bruins were in search of offense — and points — heading into Saturday night’s matchup with the Kings at the STAPLES Center.
They had been outscored 7-2 on their California road trip, with a 4-0 loss to the Ducks on Friday night and a 3-2 loss in San Jose on Tuesday.
Going up against the league’s best defensive team was going to be a tall task.
The Bruins found themselves down 1-0 in the first and trailed the Kings 2-1 heading to the third period. That is how the score would stick, with a 2-1 loss in LA making them pointless on the trip.
They turned it on for the final 40 minutes, outshooting the Kings 23-7 during that span and holding them to just two shots in the third period.
“You can like your team’s performance in the second and third, but at the end of the day, we’re going home empty-handed and that’s not what we came here for,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “So maybe it was good that we were able to show that we’re capable of playing with these guys when we set our minds to it.”
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Bruins will have one more chance on Saturday night to pick up two points from their three-game trip through California.
The Los Angeles Kings are ready and waiting, as they will look to bounce back from a 4-0 loss to the Ducks in Anaheim on Friday.
“We didn’t come here to go home empty-handed so we’ve got to find a way to get some points here,” Head Coach Claude Julien said following the defeat at the Honda Center. “We let some slip in San Jose and tonight, obviously a 4-0 game, it’s a little tough to say we let them slip away, but you know, we played well enough that we should have had a chance.”
ANAHEIM, Calif. — With 11 games left on the Bruins’ regular season schedule, the mantra will be the same from game to game.
The standings are tight. They change every day.
The intensity will be high. The Bruins will have to bring their A-game.
All of the above will be true as the Bruins kick off a tough back-to-back in Southern California on Friday night in Anaheim against the Ducks, before facing the Kings in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Though the Bruins let two points slip away in San Jose in a 3-2 loss on Tuesday night, they can continue drawing confidence from their strong road record.
The buildings in California aren’t easy places to play. The Ducks’ 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday marked their first regulation loss at home in 11 games.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The sun may be shining in Southern California, but the Bruins know where their focus lies as they finish out their road trip with a tough back-to-back against Anaheim and Los Angeles this weekend.
After a day off to rest and recover on Wednesday, the team returned to practice on Thursday at Toyota Sports Center, the training center of the LA Kings.
With two days off from game action after dropping their first game of the trip in San Jose, the Black & Gold should be geared up to face the top two teams in the Pacific Division.
“You’d like to think you’re team is capable of rising to occasions and playing well and playing hard,” Head Coach Claude Julien said following practice. “I thought we played decently against San Jose, but still not good enough to win and we could have been better.”
“So I think we can definitely expect more from our hockey club, in order to win these kind of games that we think are important for us.”
SAN JOSE, Calif. — With less than a second to go in regulation, Torey Krug had the puck in the slot and nearly found an opening on Sharks netminder James Reimer.
There was still 00.5 left on the clock, but Krug was left hunched over behind the net in disbelief, knowing how close he was to tying the game at 3-3 in San Jose.
Less than four minutes before the blueliner’s chance, David Krejci had found himself in all alone on a breakaway. He deked to his backhand and nearly slid his bid by Reimer. He met the post instead.
The Bruins fought until the end, but left the SAP Center with a 3-2 loss in their first game of the three-game West Coast swing through California.
“You can’t get any closer than that,” Krejci lamented. “It was post and had the goalie beat — I just hit the post.”
Boston held San Jose to just four shots on goal and a power-play goal in the third period, but couldn’t convert on their prime opportunities.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Heading into Tuesday night’s matchup with the Sharks, the Bruins find themselves still atop the Atlantic Division after the Florida Panthers suffered a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday.
At 86 points, Boston is one point above both Tampa Bay and Florida, though each team does have a game in hand.
Still, sitting at the top of the division is not a bad position for the Black & Gold to be in, as they begin their three-game California road trip in San Jose.
“It’s definitely motivation, for sure, to see where we are and knowing that they have games in hand,” Patrice Bergeron said after hitting the ice for an optional pregame skate on Tuesday morning. “At the same time, that’s what we want to do — we want to push to be at the top.”
“It’s a big challenge for us tonight and moving forward for the rest of the road trip. It’s definitely a tough road ahead of us, but at the same time, we should approach it as being a great challenge for us and we have great motivation to try and stay on top.”
The Bruins will cap off this trip with a back-to-back in Anaheim and Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday, so putting forth a strong effort against the Sharks will set them up for the week.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Bruins are 5-0-2 in the month of March.
Since the NHL’s trade deadline on Feb. 29, they have gone without a regulation loss in a busy stretch of seven games in 12 days against some of the league’s best like Chicago and Washington, and divisional opponents like Tampa Bay and Florida.
Their most recent victory came in a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon in Boston. For the time being, the Black & Gold are in first place in the Atlantic Division, though Florida and Tampa Bay each have a game in hand.
Overall, the Bruins’ consistency has improved — just in time to head West for the annual California trip to face three tough opponents in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles.
Marchand helped the Black & Gold finally chase Ben Bishop from his crease 10 seconds into extra time, as they shut out the Lightning 1-0 on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.
“I knew if I got to the net Bergy would find me — and he does all the time,” smiled Marchand.
“It was a great transition by Torey, and we talked about it before overtime — to try to catch them flat-footed like that,” said Bergeron. “When I got the puck, I knew that Marchy was going to try to beat his guy and be open backdoor, so I was trying to just to lay it there for him.”
“Fun to not be the defender that’s having to play against them,” laughed John-Michael Liles, who has always been on the other side of the duo.
SUNRISE, Fla. — The win may not have been the most pronounced, with the Bruins squeezing out two points in overtime after seeing a 4-1 lead evaporate, but they finished Monday night with a 5-4 decision over the Panthers to make Head Coach Claude Julien the all-time wins leader in franchise history.
With the victory — the 388th of his Bruins coaching career — the bench boss passed Art Ross in regular season wins.
Through Stempniak’s four games in Black & Gold, the winger has a goal and five assists.
“It’s been fun,” Stempniak said postgame. “I’m fortunately with two great players [in Bergeron and Brad Marchand], they’re playing well, they’ve been having great years, so for me, it’s trying to complement them and not mess it up at this point.”
SUNRISE, Fla. — With the Bruins sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division, they face an important back-to-back against the two teams above them in the standings: Florida and Tampa Bay.
The first test comes on Monday night in Sunrise against the Panthers, who have a game in hand on the Bruins, and are just one point above them with 80 points. The next test will come on Tuesday night, when the Bruins face off against the Lightning, who lead the division with 82 points.
“I think it’s an exciting game for both teams, because there’s a lot at stake,” Head Coach Claude Julien said following the Bruins’ pregame skate at BB&T Center. “I think one team wants to stay there, and the other team would like to move ahead, so when you look at a game like this at this time of year, it certainly creates some excitement for fans and also for players and teams.”
“This road trip’s a big one for us,” said Matt Beleskey. “Right now, everything’s so tight obviously, so tonight’s a big game and to be able to jump a team in the standings is huge for us.”