BOSTON — Where do you even begin when it comes to the Bruins’ missed chances in Game 1 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoffs series?
Maybe you’d like to start with Milan Lucic’s whiff on a potential one-timer during the third period. Perhaps you’d rather look at Carl Sodeberg’s in-close attempt that danced across the goal line in the first overtime. Or even the not one, but two backhanded chances David Krejci had, the first of which completely missed the net in the second period and the second stopped on an admittedly brilliant save from Carey Price. How’s about that Loui Eriksson shot that rang the crossbar in the third period?
No matter where you start, one thing is clear: The Bruins got the better of the chances in Game 1 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens. Yet, despite all of that, it was the Canadiens who skated off a litter-filled TD Garden ice surface with a 4-3 double-overtime win Thursday night.
The Bruins don’t have a lot of time to fret and dwell on missed opportunities with Game 2 set to begin about 37 hours after P.K. Subban’s game-winning power-play goal hit the back of the net. Looking at the negatives might not be in the Bruins’ best interests anyway. The result is no doubt disappointing, and the Bruins are now technically three more losses from seeing their season end at the hands of their bitter rivals.
But it’s only one game. And it was a game the Bruins dominated. Boston peppered a wonderfully brilliant Price with 51 shots through the 84 minutes and 17 seconds of hockey. Can Price be that good for the entire series? Perhaps, but there are surer bets to be found. The Bruins also attempted an absurd 98 shots, 30 of which were blocked and 17 that missed the net. They dominated puck possession and spent much of the evening in the Montreal zone.
They just could not finish.
“Honestly, some days that happens,” Bruins winger Jarome Iginla said.
He would know, too. One of the game’s all-time great goal scorers, Iginla was robbed on the power play by a Price pad save before lifting a rebound attempt high and wide.
“We’d love to score on every shot and every chance,” Iginla continued, “but some days they make a great save or you just miss your spot or you don’t elevate it, so I didn’t think anything like that. We get those same chances and on another night, we’d have a bunch.”
The fact that the Bruins and Canadiens have only played just one (albeit very long) game bodes well for the B’s, too. Boston was the better team for large chunks of Game 1. Like, for almost entire periods. The fixes should be simple. Where Boston was really hurt — in addition to not capitalizing on ample opportunities — was on the penalty kill, as the B’s allowed two crushing power-play goals, including Subban’s game-winner. The Bruins weren’t helped much by goalie Tuukka Rask, who by his own account, played like poop.
But when it came to 5-on-5 play, it was not even close, with the Bruins getting nearly two-thirds of the 5-on-5 chances.
“This is just game No. 1,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You don’t get frustrated after one game. I didn’t mind the way our team played tonight. … We’ve got to find a way to bury those great opportunities we had. That’s probably where there’s some regrets there and burying those chances.”
No matter how you look at the copious missed opportunities, the result is still the same, which is a disappointing one for the Black and Gold. But there’s plenty to build on for the rest of the series, and if the B’s play like they did in Game 1, they should be fine as this series progresses.
That is, of course, assuming they bury one or two of those chances.