BOSTON, MA - The feeling was disappointment.
It wasn't frustration, or anger, and it didn't result in careless words being thrown around in the locker room postgame. Amidst the disappointment, there was still a sense of calm.
"This is just game number one here. You don’t get frustrated after one game," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.
At 4:17 into double overtime late Thursday night, P.K. Subban beat Tuukka Rask right off the faceoff on the power play with his lethal point shot.
The Bruins had first killed off a penalty to Daniel Paille to start the second OT, and were tasked with killing another, as Matt Bartkowski was sent to the box for a hold after trying to gain positioning with Brandon Prust in front of Rask.
They came up short, falling 4-3 as the Habs took Game 1 at TD Garden. The result stung.
"That’s pretty self-explanatory," said a solemn but calm Bartkowski, when asked about the disappointment following the loss.
The pain won't necessarily linger for long, though.
The Bruins lost 4-3, but they twice had to battle back to tie the game, first coming back from being down 2-0 heading to the third period, and then 3-2 late in regulation.
Reilly Smith put them on the board 2:44 into the third period to pull within one, with a seeing-eye wrister fired through Andrei Markov's legs that found its way past Patrice Bergeron and Alexei Emelin battling in front of the crease, and past Carey Price.
Then it was Torey Krug blasting in a feed from Milan Lucic for the tying goal at the 6:30 mark of the third. The Bruins had momentum on their side, but the Habs took advantage of a small burst of sustained time in the Boston zone and pulled ahead 3-2.
Falling down yet again, the Bruins never lost their cool. They just found their spark, like they often do.
Johnny Boychuk ripped in his rocket from inside the blueline atop the slot to tie the game at 3-3 with just 1:58 left in regulation. It came on a cross-ice feed from Brad Marchand and net-front battling down low from Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg.
The Bruins carried the momentum through the first overtime, outshooting the Habs 14-6. They would finish the game with a 51-33 overall shots advantage.
"Definitely [disappointing]," said Boychuk. "We were down two and came back and tied it up and found a way to tie it up again. It’s just unfortunate, the power play in overtime - when we got that [tying] goal."
The Bruins noted missed opportunities, having fired 98 shot attempts towards the goal, 48 of which Price stopped, 30 of which were blocked and 17 that missed the mark.
"You know, we play that way, we’ll get some good results," said Iginla, eternally a voice of positivity in the Bruins' locker room.
Chance after chance, it was either Price making a save, or the Bruins hitting a post or just missing an opportunity. They could have scored three or four goals alone in the second half of the second period, including a shot from Dougie Hamilton that hit just under the bar and jutted out. Nine times out of 10 times, that shot goes in.
'We've got to stick with it' was the message. No need to get frustrated. They stayed calm, composed and fought their way back into the game to take control.
"I didn’t mind the way our team played," said Julien. "We had lots of chances. Sure, we fell behind 2-0, but we showed some resiliency and came back and I thought we carried play for the most part, and obviously in that first OT period."
"Probably the only thing is, we've got to find a way to bury those great opportunities that we had. That’s probably where there’s some regrets there, not burying those chances."
The Habs certainly felt the heat, and considered their win a full-team effort in a game that could have gone either way.
"They’re a relentless team. They push back and worked their way back into the hockey game and you have to give that team credit," said Price.
"You get over 50 shots and you kind of expect to win, so the focus is getting pucks to the net and getting past them," said Smith, who now has two goals in his young postseason career. "I think that’s about it."
Price was sharp for the Habs, but the Bruins need to create more havoc around him - like they did on Boychuk's tying goal. Eriksson's work first jamming the puck on Price in front, allowed Marchand to quickly rotate the puck up high to Boychuk for the straight-away blast.
"I thought we played a solid game overall, but that being said, we’ve got to be better and bearing down, and fighting that puck, and battling," said Patrice Bergeron, who assisted on Krug's goal that tied it up 2-2.
"Making it a little harder for Price to see the puck, because he’s going to stop it. So it’s about Game 2 now."
While Price was sharp in goal, Rask was fairly hard on himself following the loss. One to always hold himself accountable - pretty much anytime there isn't a zero on the scoresheet next to the opponent - the netminder tells it like he sees it. He wants to stop every puck, and on Thursday night, he didn't.
"I don’t think we deserved to be down 2-0, but part of that is my fault," said Rask. "But we battled back and that was great to see. Never should’ve been an overtime, but we battled and not enough today."
"I think as a team we deserved to win, but from a goalie’s standpoint Price played a lot better than I did."
"Not an off night. I made some saves, but I couldn’t make the game-savers, as you say."
"We win as a team, we lose as a team," was Julien's simple response. The bench boss has said before that he doesn't ever lose sleep over his goaltending; he's not going to start now.
As Rask will bounce back in Game 2, set for Saturday afternoon (12:30 ET) at TD Garden, so will the Bruins.
"Yeah, that’s the only option," said Rask. "We played a great game. We can’t change anything except we've got to kill those penalties and I've got to keep the puck out of my net. That’s the only changes we need, I think."
Boston allowed two power-play goals, both from P.K. Subban off point shots that bookended the game.
The Bruins' PK had finished the first round ranked second.
"There’s no panic here. It’s game number one here," Julien reiterated. "So, obviously, P.K. Subban’s got a good shot from the point and we’ve got to do a better job of fronting him, but our penalty kill’s been through a lot this year and we still have confidence in it."
As the Bruins turn to Game 2, the disappointment will quickly turn back into determination, knowing they can always come back, bounce-back or claw back any which way they need to.
"There’s so much leadership and character in this room that it rolls over onto the younger guys, and we’re always battling back and there’s always a chance," said Smith.
But the focus will be on not even letting it get to that point.
"The parts that we did play well and we did play our game, we really have to focus on that and focus on bringing that for 60 minutes," said Bartkowski.
"If we bring that intensity the whole game, then it’s a different story."
The Black & Gold will make their adjustments on Friday, and calmly flip their mindset, taking any positive aspects from Game 1 that they can. That's the only option.
"We’ve just got to move on," said Krug. "Short term memory. It’s a long series, it’s going to be long. We know that, I think they know that, and they got one in our building."
As Rask said amidst his postgame comments, "So, go home, sleep, and regroup."
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