BOSTON — Walking into TD Garden on Wednesday night, one couldn’t help but feel spring. The sun was splashing the Zakim Bridge as fans were scurrying about to get their pizza and beer fix before heading into the big concrete block on Causeway.
It felt like playoff hockey.
That feeling only intensified soon thereafter as the latest installment of Bruins-Canadiens was the main event in what was a very busy day of hockey in Boston.
The Canadiens walked out of the Garden as the victors yet again Wednesday night, coming from behind yet again to beat the B’s 6-5 in a shootout in what was arguably the wildest game of the season.
Once again, it was probably a game the Bruins should have and maybe even deserved to win. They fell behind 2-0 in the second only to come roaring back with four goals in a little more than 14 minutes. They took the 4-2 lead into the room after arguably their best period of the season.
Off of the ice, trade winds were swirling as the Jarome Iginla to Boston whispers grew louder and louder. It looked like it was going to be a golden night for the Black and Gold.
No one told that to the Canadiens, though. The Habs found themselves trailing by two entering the third and were down by a pair as late as 8:10 remaining. However, they showed no quit, battling back to eventually tie the game with 8.2 seconds to play only to win it in a lengthy shootout.
Oh, and they were doing all of this just one night after dropping a hard-fought 1-0 decision to the conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins — the very team the B’s lost to in the apparent Iginla sweepstakes.
It was the second time this month Montreal has come into Boston and upended the Bruins in their own barn. The loss, just the latest in a growing stretch of third-period letdowns for the B’s, was met all around with frustration.
Unsurprisingly, no one personified that frustration more than goaltender Tuukka Rask. He slammed his stick against the boards on his way off the ice, and then proceeded to slam a door in the dressing room after finishing his chat with reporters.
“Yeah, it sucks,” forward Tyler Seguin said. “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. I got to swallow this one and move on.”
But while it was frustrating for the Bruins to miss out on the two points, this was a different sort of loss than their most recent meltdowns. A couple of bad bounces, including the one in the final seconds that helped Brendan Gallagher score the game-tying goal, had just as much to do with the loss as Boston breakdowns.
“Some nights you don’t get the breaks or the bounces, and we certainly didn’t get them [Wednesday night], head coach Claude Julien said. “No doubt we could have been better. We still think there are some guys that could be better for us, but we made some positive strides in scoring some goals, something we haven’t done in a while.”
If there is a positive to be drawn from the heart-breaking loss, it would be the offense. The Bruins entered Wednesday having scored just eight goals in their last five games. The offense was jump-started with goals from Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand, three players who have struggled to put the puck in the net lately.
“We’re very disappointed with how the game finished, but we have to be happy we scored as many goals as we did,” Marchand said. “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 of bounces and penalties that didn’t go our way, but definitely some things we can take that we can be happy about.”
Now the Bruins must build on those positives, especially if they end up meeting the Canadiens in the playoffs. The Habs may have gotten a little bit lucky Wednesday night, but they took advantage of their chances, and that’s a recipe for winning in the playoffs.
It felt like the playoffs on Wednesday night in Boston, both inside and out. If this is a matchup we see in a month or so, there’s no denying that it’s going to be nothing short of fantastic.