Saturday was a weird day for the Bruins, and ultimately, it wasn’t a very fun one for Claude Julien and the rest of the Black and Gold.
The Bruins endured one of their most tumultuous days in recent memory Saturday, a day that came to an end on Saturday night with a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The wild day started much earlier than that, though.
Boston made the trip to Ottawa without defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, something Julien announced Friday night. What wasn’t known until Saturday, though, was that third-line winger Carl Soderberg wasn’t making the trip, either. He’s dealing with concussion-like symptoms after taking a hit Friday night against the Senators. So the Bruins shuttle service — which has certainly earned its share of frequent flyer miles this season — was back to work as David Warsofsky and Nick Johnson were called up.
The call-ups didn’t end there, though. The B’s also recalled defenseman Zach Trotman on an emergency basis. He actually had to travel from Glens Falls, N.Y., where Providence was playing, to Ottawa to meet up with the B’s. Just as warmups began in Ottawa, Trotman arrived at the rink. That came at about the same time the Bruins announced that Zdeno Chara wasn’t going to be playing Saturday night and is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
This was all before the game even began, of course.
While the Bruins were taking on a Senators team that was missing Jason Spezza and Chris Philips, there was more than enough reason to think that the Bruins would be up against it on Saturday night. Those thoughts were more or less confirmed just 29 seconds into the second period. Zack Smith scored a shorthanded goal against Tuukka Rask — a play Rask usually makes — and the Sens took a 3-1 lead. The goal chased Rask in a move that looked more like a pity move than anything else.
But that’s when the Bruins started to battle back. Backup goalie Chad Johnson kept the B’s in the game until late in the second when Jarome Iginla scored his 12th goal of the season, his fourth in three games. Johnson made sure that the goal would stand up heading into the second intermission, as he withstood six shots in the final 3:10 of the second period, the most noticeable a point-blank chance for Clarke MacArthur in front that Johnson was able to stop.
The Bruins completed their comeback attempt almost seven minutes into the third period. Fittingly, it was one of the replacement defensemen, David Warsofsky, who showed off his offensive skill set to tie the game. The Boston University product went end to end before blasting a shot from the right faceoff circle to tie the game.
The comeback effort alone was impressive. Julien had shortened the bench of an already shorthanded club, and the B’s had improbably clawed all the way back. It’s the type of mentality that has kept the Bruins atop the Atlantic Division this season despite the rash of injuries. However, a strong-minded mentality and sticktoitness wasn’t enough to steal a game on Saturday night.
Torey Krug, whose offensive-minded game from the back end may be suffering the most with the loss of top-tier defensive talent, saw his struggles continue. The rookie D-man coughed up the puck at the Ottawa blue line with less than five minutes to play, and Bobby Ryan made Krug and the Bruins pay. Ryan gathered a loose puck along the wall, sped down the ice and buried a backhanded chance to give Ottawa the lead back. The Sens wouldn’t relinquish that lead, despite a furious 6-on-4 bid from the Bruins in the final two minutes to put five shots on net.
That last-ditch effort, much like the rest of the Bruins’ effort just wasn’t enough for the B’s in this one.
“I saw a good fight from our team,” Julien told NESN’s Jamie Erdahl following the game. “We fell behind 3-1, but I thought we battled back well. It was a crazy day today, and we went through a lot of different things. It would have been nice to come out of here with at least a point and I thought we deserved at least that, but unfortunately we gave them that late goal in the third.”
The Bruins gave a great effort Saturday night, but when you’re this banged up and things are going the way they’re going, sometimes great efforts alone aren’t enough. Julien knows that no one is going to feel sorry for them because of injuries like the one to Seidenberg.
“We’re certainly going to miss him; he’s a good defenseman, but there’s no one discouraged in that room,” Julien added. “I go back to my first year [in Boston in 2007-08] where we lost [Patrice] Bergeron for the whole year and we just rallied around that and worked that much harder. That’s what we need to do right now. You compensate that way by just making sure you work hard and everyone does their job and that’s how we compensate for his loss.”
They tried like hell to do that Saturday night and fell just short.