It had to end at some point, and trekking to Winnipeg to face a hungry Jets team in front of a rabid Manitoba crowd less than 24 hours after an emotional win in Pittsburgh was hardly a surprising scenario to bring about the end of the Bruins' 15-game point streak.
The Bruins dropped a 2-1 decision to the Jets in their first visit to Winnipeg in nearly 16 years, and no one in Black and Gold was happy about seeing the streak come to an end. But despite the tailor-made setup for a trap game, the Bruins still put up the kind of effort that would have earned them two points on most nights.
"I'm not dissatisfied with our effort," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "The streak ends and you can start another one."
The Bruins did appear a bit sleepy early on, but came alive over the final 40 minutes. They couldn't get any of their 17 second-period shots past Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec, though. And after Shawn Thornton finally deflected one home in the third to tie it, the Jets quickly answered on a rare Boston defensive breakdown, when Bryan Little won a faceoff outside his own blue line and went coast to coast for the game-winner.
"We had some real good scoring opportunities and a lot of open nets that we missed tonight," Julien said. "The puck seemed to roll off our sticks or we missed. It's one of those nights where sometimes those pucks don't bounce for you, but I'm not disappointed with our effort. We worked hard and battled hard, but so did they. They played a really strong game. They were hard on us all night. They knew they had to play that way against us and you have to give them a lot of credit."
The Bruins did play shorthanded in this one. Leading scorer Tyler Seguin was a late scratch after he showed up a little too late in the morning. He slept through the team breakfast and a team meeting, a repeat offense that the club finally had to act upon.
"It's not an easy decision to make," Julien said. "But it's not based on just one thing. It's happened more than once and on point he's a pro and he just has to react to the responsibilities that came with that."
The Bruins sorely missed Seguin's offense and his finishing touch may have been enough to have changed the outcome of this one. But if the talented young star truly was beginning to feel he was above the law with multiple violations of team rules, then making a statement to get him back on the right track was worth the risk of two points in December.
Even without Seguin, the Bruins created more than enough chances. The top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton had plenty of opportunities, and Jordan Caron acquitted himself well filling in for Seguin. The third line of Chris Kelly, Benoit Pouliot and Rich Peverley, who also spent some time on Bergeron's wing, had its opportunities as well, and the fourth line contributed the lone goal, with Gregory Campbell's steal and Daniel Paille's feed out front setting up Thornton's deflection.
The Bruins just ran into a red-hot goalie in Pavelec, and none of the foes have had to try to beat Tim Thomas in the last couple of years will have any sympathy for the Bruins about that.
Thomas also got the night off, but that had nothing to do with any disciplinary issues. Instead, the veteran got a well-earned rest after making a season-high 45 saves Monday in Pittsburgh. Tuukka Rask got the call instead, and did more than enough to keep the Bruins in the game. He'd no doubt like the first Winnipeg goal back when Andrew Ladd beat him short-side in the first, but Rask finished with 33 saves in a solid effort.
He wasn't the issue, nor was the absence of Seguin. The problem was solving Pavelec at the other end of the ice, and not even Seguin, whose goal Monday was just his second in the last 10 games after scoring 11 in his first 15 games, likely would have had an answer for that.
"They played extremely hard," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of the Jets. "They played a really strong game. Not that we didn't. We created chances and usually we do score on those chances and tonight we didn't. It's just the way it is. We lost the game and they played hard."
The Bruins weren't happy about the outcome, but after rattling off a 14-0-1 stretch for the club's longest point streak since 1983, they're not about to get too despondent over one loss.
"I hate losing, everybody hates losing," Rask said. "You win some, you lose some. You've just got to move ahead and shake this one off."
The Bruins will put this one behind them and try to start a new streak when they return home to face the surprising Southeast Division-leading Panthers on Thursday. Seguin will have to get past the disappointment of his benching and learn from the experience. If he can do that and get back to getting the most out of his ample skills, the Bruins may look back at this night not as the end of a remarkable run, but the start of something even more special in the maturation process of their young star.
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