BOSTON — The Bruins did just about everything they wanted to do in the second period of Thursday's series opener against Montreal.
They dominated the period territorially, spending the bulk of the frame in the Montreal zone. They peppered Canadiens goalie Carey Price with 18 shots, while Bruins netminder Tim Thomas faced just six. It was exactly the response they needed after Montreal had struck for a quick 1-0 lead on the very first shot of the series 2:44 into the first period.
It was everything they needed to do except the one crucial exception of actually getting any of those shots past Price. Montreal's goalie, who had not won a playoff game since his rookie year in 2008, looked every bit the poised veteran as he stopped all 31 shots he faced to pull out a 2-0 victory and wrest the home-ice advantage from the Bruins.
It was a frustrating finish to what the Bruins had hoped to be the beginning of a new chapter to erase the franchise's past playoff disappointments, many of which have come at the hands of the Habs.
"I think that's their game plan, they're good at frustrating teams," Bruins forward Gregory Campbell said. "We saw that last year against two extremely good teams [when Montreal beat Washington and Pittsburgh in the first two rounds of the season]. They're good at that."
And the Bruins need to be better at finding ways to escape the trap of Montreal's stifling defensive system and attack Price with quality chances as well as quantity.
"Obviously there's things we need to tweak a little bit," Campbell said. "I thought we played a pretty decent game and put a lot of pressure on them. Their goalie was really good, but that's up to us to figure him out."
The Bruins are confident they know how to do that, but it's a matter of executing the plan, which calls for creating as much traffic in front of Price as possible to take him out of his comfort zone.
"He's a good goalie," Campbell said. "If you're not jamming the net and not relentless around the net it's going to be tough to score on him. As much as we were frustrated because I think we did control play for most of the second, there are a few things that we can do better and the biggest is be a little more tenacious around the net.
"We're going to have to get him off his game somehow," Campbell added. "No goalie likes traffic — I don't care who you are. So I think that has to be our focus."
For Brad Marchand, who led the Bruins with six shots on Price, it's not a matter of the Bruins changing their approach, but rather just executing it better.
"I don't think anything," Marchand said when asked what the Bruins needed to change for Game 2 on Saturday. "We have to play the exact same way we did. If we improved one more thing it would be get more bodies in front of the net, in front of Price to take his eyes away, but other than that I think we had a good game."
Nathan Horton agreed.
"You want to score and when you don't score it's frustrating," Horton said. "It's only Game 1 and we'll continue to play our game and put pucks to the net, and hopefully they'll go in."
But they won't go in if the Bruins continue to allow Price unobstructed views of the pucks coming at him. Boston needs to crash the crease, create screens and bang in rebounds if they want to erase those zeros on the scoreboard. And they have to stay patient and stick with that approach for the full 60 minutes.
"I think that's one thing that we had talked about — not getting frustrated with certain things," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "But obviously we felt we should have come out with something better than we did in the second period and unfortunately we didn't capitalize. We had some great opportunities, but I think there's reasons for that.
"I don't think we did a very good job of taking away [Price's] vision," Julien added. "He saw a lot of shots and he saw a lot of pucks. We definitely have to get better in that area if we plan on scoring some goals. We had some quality chances as well that we didn't capitalize on and when you get those quality chances, you have to make sure you bury those."
There was no panic in the Bruins' room after the loss. They didn't expect this to be a short or easy series, but there's certainly a heightened sense of urgency to even the series on Saturday and avoid going up to Montreal in a two-game hole.
"I think we prepared for this," Campbell said. "There's lots of ups and downs throughout the course of a series. One game certainly doesn't mean a series. Going into this, we wanted to stay level-headed. You can't get too down. You can't get too high. If we would have won that game we certainly wouldn't have been parading around here celebrating. Our goal stays the same. It's very early in the series, but obviously it makes Game 2 much more important."