PITTSBURGH, PA - Going into Sunday's St. Patrick's Day matinee, the charged up Bruins were coming off their emotional win over the Capitals on Saturday, and the Penguins were looking to extend an eight-game winning streak.
But both teams were also heading into their third game in four days and the second game of back-to-backs, after having faced each other on Tuesday night.
When the horn sounded, the B's saw a tight, perimeter with not too many scoring chances at either end, turn into just their fifth regulation loss of the season, falling to the Penguins 2-1.
"Today, to me, was a typical playoff game, I thought we played well, we played hard, so did they," Coach Julien told media from the visiting team locker room at CONSOL Energy Center following the game. "It was a tight game, it ended up as a 2-1 hockey game, which I think both teams had a chance to win."
When asked if he had been frustrated with not being able to bury chances - as the B's outshot the Pens 32-18 and 12-3 in the final frame - Coach Julien was quick to defend his team.
"The thing we've got to be careful of here is, I'm not disappointed in our effort here today," said Coach. "Again, it's our third game in four days, I thought we competed hard, I thought we had a chance to win."
"When you say outshot them, I thought we spent more time in their end and we did all the things right, except that we couldn't get that goal. There's a couple of times where the goalie was out and we shot a puck and it looked like it was going in and it hits a skate and goes wide. You get those games and you get those nights."
"The effort was there, I thought it was a good game by both teams. Again, both teams played their third game in four nights and I thought we both showed a lot of energy."
The B's starting goaltender, Tuukka Rask, had the game's best viewpoint from the crease, and he too, made the assessment that the teams displayed the same effort on the ice.
"I think you could tell it was the third game in four nights for both teams. I don't know how it looked up there [in the press box]," Rask told media gathered in the locker room. "Dump in, dump in, change, stuff like that, not a lot of chances. But, it was a tight game, it was up there for grabs, just couldn't capitalize."
The game saw all three goals take place within eight minutes at the end of the first period. Pittsburgh got on the board first off the always hot hands of Sidney Crosby, and ended up taking a 2-1 lead with 32 seconds left in the first.
But before the Pens could get their 2-1 lead and hold it, Tyler Seguin tied it up 1-1 on his 10th of the season. And then nearly tied it 2-2 with a wraparound late in the third.
"On the goal we scored, that was from pressure and the forecheck. When we do that, we're obviously at our best," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron postgame.
"But, you're right, it was more back and forth," he added, when media inquired about the tight game. "We couldn't get that extra goal to, at least, get to overtime."
"Well, I thought in the first period it was more of two teams doing a good job in the offensive zone and struggling in the D zone," said Coach Julien. "When we were in their end, we had a lot of time and the same thing for them. I thought we just got a little bit better in our own end as the game went on and put a little bit more pressure in the offensive zone, we just couldn't get that next goal we needed."
The consensus in the B's locker room was that the tight game could have gone either way, but, this time around, they ended up just short.
"Seggy had that close wraparound that went straight through the crease. If that hits off something, usually it hits off somebody, if it's that close and goes in it's a different game," said defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
"Usually, you'd like to see a bounce like that," said Seguin, who thought the puck had found a way in to tie it, but could only throw his head back in frustration at seeing it stay out of the net.
"We were really competing well. When we went in our own zone, they were kind of doing the same thing we were. I think if we had that intensity we did in the offensive zone in our D zone, I think it would have worked out better for us."
"We played well," said his linemate Patrice Bergeron. "But couldn't - and we should've - found a way to get at least that goal to push it to overtime. The chances were there, maybe if we had a little bit more traffic in front of [Tomas] Vokoun, he made some good saves. But, still, we've got to be a little harder."
When Brad Marchand was asked about the fatigue factor, it felt like Tuesday night all over again, having come into Pittsburgh both times on the second game of a back-to-back. But as expected, he didn't believe that was what cost the B's the game.
"We both played three in four and I think it was our sixth game in nine days," said the winger. "It's a bit of a grueling schedule right now, but at the same time, you've got to find a way to come through and continue to battle. Every point matters."
Down a Man
Both Boston and Pittsburgh had to play without key members of their rosters during Sunday's game.
Towards the end of the first period, Kris Letang left the bench, and the Penguins' PR staff during the intermission said that he would not return to the game with a lower-body injury, leaving the Pens down a defenseman for the rest of the game.
"Yeah, any time their defensive corps is short, you want to try and play low in their end," said Marchand. "It's something we tried to do, we did get our opportunities, we just couldn't finish."
Then, nearing the end of regulation, David Krejci was attended to on the ice and did not return to the bench. Following the game, there was no immediate update, but he did travel with the team to Winnipeg, so that it is a positive. Any further updates will be posted to BostonBruins.com and on the B's official Twitter feed @NHLBruins.
What better way than to get a goal breakdown than from the netminder himself?
Following the loss, Tuukka Rask was asked about the Penguins' first-period tallies that ultimately led to their 2-1 win.
The first saw Sidney Crosby win a puck battle behind Rask, setting up the play that led to his own goal off quick passes from Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz.
"Yeah, I moved side to side behind the net, the guy spun around, I still caught up with him and he passed it in front," said Rask, on if he had lost track of the puck. "I pushed out and lost my footing, then it was a back-door pass. In a perfect world, I'm obviously pushing out, pushing side to side, but things happen quick sometimes. I just lost my footing and couldn't make it."
On the Pens' second goal that came with just 32 seconds left in the first, the puck changed direction on Rask after getting deflected. He had been in position and still managed to slide to the left and make the save on Craig Adams, but Joe Vitale dove to pot the rebound.
"It was our D there trying to block it, tipped the side of the pad, it was coming over my shoulder and then I moved that way," said Rask. "And then it was coming high glove and I couldn't catch it. Tried to recover but couldn't go far enough and the guy just tipped it in."
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