Sometimes it sounds like the Bruins are searching for some sort of mythical creature. They search and they search for it, but they just can’t seem to find it. When they lose, they’re nowhere near finding it. Sometimes even when they win, the search continues.
That mythical creature the Bruins continue to search for? A 60-minute effort. That full-game effort was nowhere to be found Thursday night at Bell Centre in Montreal even as the Bruins left no stone unturned in their quest for the 60-minute effort. The Bruins had two really good periods, but one awful second period sealed their fate as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Canadiens. With the loss, the Bruins fall back into second place in the Atlantic Division with the Habs — playing their third game in four nights — taking over the top spot in the division.
The Bruins played a strong first period in their first game since Saturday night. They got a pretty gnarly scare just 4:28 into the game when Johnny Boychuk was hit from behind by Max Pacioretty. The Boston defenseman was eventually stretchered off and taken to the hospital. The Bruins responded about as well as you could imagine, and they took a 1-0 lead to the dressing room after Gregory Campbell scored a beautiful goal on an even prettier feed from Milan Lucic.
After that, though, the wheels fell off. The Canadiens, who were outshot 10-3 in the first period, came out and took it to the Bruins in the middle period. Montreal hemmed in the Bruins in their own end, as Montreal got pucks deep and put the Bruins on their heels. The Habs put eight shots on goal in the second period before finally breaking through against Tuukka Rask. That’s when Tomas Plekanec took a pass from Josh Gorges and picked a corner shortside over Rask’s glove.
The Bruins’ struggles to close out periods also reappeared late in the second. Dennis Seidenberg got caught way up the ice in an attempted pinch, and that allowed the Canadiens to break out with speed. Pacioretty was the eventual beneficiary as he caught the B’s and Rask out of position and jumped on a rebound in the slot for a backhanded chance. It was a fittingly ugly end to an ugly period.
“We played a great, real good first period and that second period was atrocious and embarrassing to say the least,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We came out but the damage had been done. It’s unfortunate because the second period cost us the game.
“All of a sudden we didn’t skate, we didn’t put pucks in deep. I don’t know if we thought it was gonna be an easy game, but they came out and did the things we talked about doing in the second period. I don’t know if they heard us talking in our dressing room, but they kept putting pucks behind us. We had to keep going back and getting them and that’s what we wanted to be doing against them.”
It was certainly a lost opportunity for the Bruins, who came into the game with the obvious advantage in terms of rest. Their four-day layoff should have been even more pronounced by the fact that the Canadiens had played the night before, a shootout no less, in New Jersey.
“We knew they played [Wednesday night] and we didn’t take advantage of it,” forward Jarome Iginla told reporters. “You gotta play a full game and it got us this time.”
Against poor or even mediocre teams, not playing a full game won’t usually cost the Bruins. They know how to beat bad teams even on nights when they’re not at their best. What’s evident, though, is that they probably don’t have the sort of offensive firepower that will allow them to dig out of holes after poor efforts at any point in the game. That’s what happened Thursday night going up against a Habs team that has won eight of 10 with Carey Price (32 saves) between the pipes.
It’s a stinging loss for the Bruins who know they could have gotten much more out of that opportunity. It won’t get any easier moving forward, though, as they have Pittsburgh at home on Saturday before traveling to Toronto on Sunday to finish off their own stretch of three games in four days — their next chances to continue that search.