But Saturday night's 3-2 shootout victory in Chicago was still a much-needed win for the club. Not only did it stop a two-game slide and keep the Bruins from digging an even deeper early hole for themselves, but it also finally gave a glimpse of returning to the style of play that had made them so successful last season. And the Bruins did that while beating the team that last raised the Stanley Cup before them and stands as a strong contender to do it again this spring.
For the first time this year, this really looked like Bruins hockey, even if the victory wasn't sealed until it went to the gimmicky shootout that is an insulting way to end such a thrilling night of actual hockey action.
The Bruins won't complain too much about the end, though. After rallying to tie the game in the third period with Nathan Horton's first goal of the season, Tyler Seguin scored the only goal in the shootout and Tim Thomas stopped all three Chicago shooters.
"We needed it bad," Thomas said. "This puts us 2-3. It's a big difference between 2-3 and 1-4. We've got to start building from somewhere, and being down, battling back into the game, and almost winning it there towards the end of the third and overtime, and to finish it off in the shootout.
"I don't like shootouts," Thomas continued. "They're no fun for me. I don't know if they're fun for the fans, but sometimes it's important how they turn out and I think tonight might have been one of those nights because we needed the win. We didn't need just the one point. We needed the win. We needed to feel good going forward, [have] something to carry over on."
The Bruins got that by getting back to their old hard-hitting and hard-working ways. They finally had their first fight of the season, with Gregory Campbell stepping up early to set a tone with a scrap against Jamal Mayers. They dished out a season-high 40 hits. With 14 different players recording at least one, the Bruins had more skaters with hits than they had hits collectively in their previous game, when they managed just 12 in Carolina.
"I just thought we got better as the game went on, and by the third period we looked a lot more like our team," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who earned his 300th career win with the victory. "So that was good. I thought we did a great job of fighting through what we've been talking about the last couple of days."
The Bruins continued to struggle on the power play, going 0-for-3 on the man advantage. They are now 1-for-20 on the season and have failed to convert 19 straight opportunities after scoring on their first chance of the season. But Chris Kelly did get Boston on the board with a shorthanded tally in the second period and, while unsuccessful, even the power play showed some signs of life with the chances created.
"We found a way to win it in the shootout, I thought our penalty kill was outstanding against a pretty potent power play and our power play had some chances again tonight," Julien said. "I can't say I'm disappointed in the ones we had. We had some great chances and some great looks."
Most importantly, the Bruins finally had a little of the look of last season's squad. They've insisted all through camp and the start of the season that they need to turn the page of last year's championship and start a new chapter. But there's nothing wrong with a sequel that adopts the same style as the original when that first version was so successful.
And rediscovering that style can make even an October regular-season game pretty important after all.