BOSTON, MA - When first place for the Northeast Division is at stake, there's always the potential for a barn-burner. Seven of the past eight games heading into Wednesday night's match-up between the Bruins and Canadiens had been one-goal decisions, and again, it was no different, as the B's fell 6-5 in the shootout.
The B's had only scored nine goals in their past five games, so an outburst of five goals ought to bring them the win, right? Not so fast, said the Habs, who scored with 8.2 seconds left on the clock in regulation to send the game to extra time, tied at 5-5.
"Well, that’s the disappointing part, I think," Coach Julien told media following the deflating loss. "It was nice to see us score some goals tonight, we’ve been a little dry lately and we managed to score five, so that was nice to see. But, unfortunately, we couldn’t keep it out of our net, so it ended up costing us the game."
The night saw Brad Marchand net his first goal in four games and only his second in a span of 12 games, but it was still the B's team-leading 14th of the season and, more importantly, knotted the game at 2-2 after Boston had fallen down by two goals early in the second for the second straight game.
"Yeah, we’re very disappointed with how the game finished but we do have to be happy we scored as many goals as we did," said Marchand, who ended the game with his sixth multiple-point night, after recording a goal and assisted on Tyler Seguin's score that put them up 5-3 in the third. "We haven’t been scoring like that lately and we played a pretty good game."
"I thought we probably deserved that win but a couple bounces and penalties and stuff and turned out the wrong way but definitely some things we can take out of that to be happy about."
When asked about his fight to try and find his game as of late, Marchand believed the night's effort would help give him confidence moving forward.
"Yeah, there’s ups and downs with every season and it’s been a little tougher scoring goals lately but it’s nice to get another one there and hopefully they keep coming."
The Bruins can certainly be happy about their outburst of goals in the second period, when they responded just 35 seconds after P.K. Subban gave the Habs a 2-0 lead, and put up a season-high four unanswered goals in the one frame thanks to Dougie Hamilton, Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton, to go up 4-2 heading into the third (the B's last four-goal period had come nearly a year ago, back on March 31, 2012, in a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders).
Leave it to former 'B' Michael Ryder, back in the bleu-blanc-rouge, to bring the Habs within one early in the third, but Seguin responded to put the Bruins up 5-3 at the 11:50 mark. A great night for the Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line that ended the first back together and stayed that way the rest of the game, as they tallied nine points (3-6) and now have a combined 19 points (6-13) in three games against the Habs this season.
Though, a bad bounce and a tough break, both led to the puck ending up in the back of the Bruins' net, and the eventual shootout loss.
"But those last two goals, the fourth one I think it was, ends up going off [Dennis] Seidenberg’s face and right to Gallagher," said Coach Julien, on a bouncing puck hitting Seidenberg, and then distracting Tuukka Rask as Brendan Gallagher was able to stay with the loose puck and put it in behind Rask.
Looking strong towards the end, it looked like the B's would walk away with sole possession of first in the Northeast, but a heart-wrenching Montreal goal with 8.2 on the clock sucked the life out of the crowd - and the bench. What was even more deflating, was that it came on the power play, off a bad break on an Aaron Johnson delay-of-game penalty.
"Tying goal, it’s unfortunate, can’t blame your player – it hit the shaft of his stick and went into the stands and we end up shorthanded," said Coach, sure to not put any onus on his player. "We did our best to kill it six-on-four, but some nights you don’t get the breaks or the bounces, so we certainly didn’t get them tonight."
"No doubt we could have been better, I still think there are some guys that can be better for us, but we made some positive strides in scoring some goals, something we haven’t done in a while."
"It definitely hurts a lot," said Marchand, on having the game in their hands - and failing to come up with the win. "A couple of unlucky ones there and when you hit a puck out of the air and over the glass it’s tough but we gave them an opportunity to come back in it and they got a goal late there and it’s tough."
"It kills your momentum and definitely kills our spirit but we just have to learn how to play with the lead again."
But Wednesday night's blown lead was not like the other lost leads in March - this was a game where the Bruins showed a great effort, never settled, and kept pressing. They scored highlight goals, gritty goals, converted on the power play, and showed physicality.
"Well, I would tell you that tonight the lead that evaporated wasn’t the same as the other ones I’ve seen where we’ve totally collapsed as a team," said Coach. "I don’t think we sat back. We had some chances to score. Campbell had a breakaway there shorthanded, we had some chances, we didn’t score. But I certainly don’t think we held back like we did probably in some other games."
Certainly a positive to take from the game, was the hard-fought effort, but the sting of not getting the two points, after having the game in their hands, is mostly what the Black & Gold will take away from the night.
"Do you want me to give you that on a scale of one to ten?" asked Seguin, on the frustration of only getting one point. "It’s not a great feeling."
"But I thought we still battled hard and I think we were playing well the last few games, but I thought we established identity back again tonight. Next time, I hope it gets us two points as well."
"It’s a tough one to swallow. I thought that we earned the most portion of that game and deserved to walk away with two points. Got to swallow this one and move on."
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