BOSTON, MA - With two minutes remaining in regulation Tuesday night, the Bruins looked up from their bench and saw the scoreboard winding down as they trailed the New York Rangers, 3-1.
Twenty-nine seconds later, Nathan Horton - the winger who had seen a year wiped out following a concussion and who GM Peter Chiarelli tonight called "eager, alert, enthusiastic" - gave them hope. Just under a minute after that glimmer, Brad Marchand - who now has four goals in three of his last four games - made them erupt, along with the sellout crowd at TD Garden. 3-3. Tie game. Comeback kids in full effect.
"It was wild," said Marchand on the come-from-behind effort. "The fans are incredible, and it just seemed like once we got that first one [in the third], we knew we were going to tie it up. We just kept going."
"It’s always fun having a game like that in our rink. It just seems like our fans are so up for it and really enjoy it. It’s just too bad we couldn’t finish it off."
Despite tying it up - and trying desperately to end it in the overtime frame (diving to block shots, running down pucks, Game 7 type of desperation) - the B's would go on to drop a 4-3 decision to the Rangers in the sudden death round of the shootout. Although not pleased with the outcome, the hard-fought point is what the Bruins will take away with them from the defeat.
"We know, especially from pretty much our whole team that was here when we went on our Cup run, the game isn’t over until the buzzer rings," added Marchand, who leapt in the air with his five teammates swarming him after the tying goal. "We just seem to have that confidence if we’re down by a goal or two that we can battle back."
"You need that. You need that going into the playoffs and going on a stretch. It’s a good thing to see early on. We just got to keep building on it."
"With a lot less games, a lot less points on the table, you want to get any points that you can," said Milan Lucic, who had two assists tonight - first deflecting Dennis Seidenberg's shot to give David Krejci a chance to pounce on the rebound, before providing the net-front presence that set up Nathan Horton's rebound.
"It was good to see the guys battle all the way through to the end and pick up that point. That’s the thing we have in this room is we’ve got a lot of character, and we have guys who aren’t going to quit, no matter what the situation is, and we proved that tonight."
"We just seem to have a lot of drive in the third," the burly power forward added, on how the Bruins are able to find another gear and come back so often in games. "I think that Coach comes in and really pushes us to leave it all out on the ice."
"It just seems we have a lot of leadership and guys step up at the right times. When you have guys playing well, everyone else follows."
Heading into tonight's match-up, the Black & Gold had commented on their historic start to the season, noting that the finish would be what was most important. And that has been true for them within games as well, with the B's outscoring their opponents 15-5 in the third period this season.
"I mean, you’re kind of just hoping," said Tuukka Rask, who wasn't too pleased with letting in three goals tonight, the third of which squeaked through him after the initial stop. "There’s nothing you can do. It’s kind of incredible to see that you can score two goals in such a short period of time."
Through the first two periods of action, Boston could not find the back of the net, but it was not for a lack of first opportunities, as they threw 23 shots on Henrik Lundqvist and generated solid scoring chances (10 in all, according to the stats). It wasn't until the B's picked up their net drive (Coach Julien's bread and butter) and rebounds, that they found a way past Lundqvist and the Rangers' 25 blocked shots.
"We still had chances in the first two periods, but we weren’t able to pounce on the loose pucks and get the quality scoring chances like we did in the third," said David Krejci, who nearly scored his goal that started the momentum swing on the power play, but it came up one second short. "It was good to see that we didn’t quit at all tonight."
"To get a point like that especially against a team like that, against a good goaltender, and they block everything so it’s kind of hard to get it through. It’s really a big one so I think we can be pretty happy and it should take the positive things from tonight’s game and move on."
"You see teams are on rolls right now, and you don’t want to be left behind," added Marchand. "We want to continue to remain in a playoff position. To do that, you have to get a point every night."
Besides the comeback, another bright spot in the loss was the outstanding play of the penalty kill - yet again - that has not allowed a goal on 43 of 46 penalties this season. The PK came up huge at the start of the third period, killing off a 5-on-3 and then 5-on-4 situation. While New York scored on a lucky break shortly after, the drive of the Bruins to take the game all the way to a shootout cannot be overlooked.
Coach Julien was happy with the third-period effort - he just hopes for a higher compete level and consistency from his squad as they head on a road stretch of five games over the next two weeks.
"You’ve got to appreciate the fact that we never gave up and we came back and tied the game with our goalie pulled on two occasions. That’s a positive to take out of it," said Coach Julien following the game. "I didn’t think we competed as well as I’ve seen us compete since the beginning. I thought that was probably down a notch, we needed to compete a little bit more if we wanted to win this hockey game."
"To gain a point after being down 3-0 in the third is certainly something to be happy about, but I don’t think we’re going to get carried away with thinking this was a great situation. I think we’re fortunate to get this point and we’ll take it and hopefully learn from it."
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