BOSTON — Brad Marchand, Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell had spent their entire hockey lives dreaming of this opportunity.
The reality didn't work out exactly as they would have liked, as Montreal spoiled the celebration a bit by beating Boston 2-0 in Game 1 of their opening-round series, but all three of the Bruins who made their NHL playoff debuts on Thursday were still grateful for the chance to get their first taste of postseason action.
"I'm not going to lie, it was exciting," Campbell said. "There was a lot of energy out there."
Campbell never got a chance to play in the playoffs in his first five years in the league with Florida, so he was definitely appreciative of the opportunity this spring and cognizant of the differences between regular-season and playoff hockey.
"It comes down to little things become that much more important," said Campbell, who had two shots and three hits in 11:57 on the ice. "Every play has to be hard. Every situation is magnified. The plays that don't seem big are really big at the end of the day. It's the turnover here or the turnover there that results in a goal against or a goal for. The intensity, obviously, is a little higher. It's a little more physical. But once the game settles in, it's another hockey game and I think we've just got to play with confidence, poise and just remain calm."
Like Campbell, Horton spent his entire career with the Panthers before coming to Boston last summer, and he was also impressed, though not exactly surprised, with the intensity of postseason play.
"For me not having played in the playoffs, it was a good experience and it was a lot of fun," Horton said. "It's different hockey, and it'd be a lot more fun if we won.
"It's a little different, but it didn't surprise me," added Horton, who had three shots and two hits in 17:53. "It's a lot more intense, a lot more fun. It was a great experience. Now we just have to get back on that winning track."
Marchand came closest to getting the Bruins the elusive goal they needed for a chance at a win with several scoring chances and a game-high six shots. But he also took a costly interference penalty late in the second period and finished a minus-1 in 14:38.
"Well, it's his first game in the playoffs," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Marchand. "You can't fault his effort. You can't fault him for the way he worked tonight and competed. Maybe a little nervousness took away some of his edge, but nonetheless, certainly not going to fault him for his effort."
Marchand, who was with the team throughout last year's postseason run but did not get into any playoff games, took away some valuable insight from his first game.
"It was faster, a little more intense," Marchand said. "I don't think the game changed a whole lot. Guys just seemed to keep it a little more simple and tried to stay away from turnovers. I think that was the biggest difference. In that way you can use more speed getting in the zone."