Kaspars Daugavins was so close. The Bruins forward was so close to scoring the game-winning goal that would have ended a long night of hockey and would have given the B’s a 1-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
All he had to do was one-time the puck home, and the Bruins would walk off with the 4-3 win. Instead, he opted to try to skate through the crease and backhand the potential game-winner. The play was broken up, and play continued.
There was no way the Bruins were going to win that game from that point on. Sure enough, just a couple of minutes later, Andrew Shaw deflected a shot by Tuukka Rask to give the Blackhawks the win.
The Game 1 loss was far from solely Daugavins’ fault. His inability to bury that chance was just one of many missed opportunities in what almost amounted to an entirely additional game over the course of almost three overtimes.
The Bruins got two power play chances in the overtime periods, and they couldn’t convert on either of them. They came close, though. Boy, did they come close. Zdeno Chara almost scored in the final seconds of the second overtime when his shot from the point was deflected by Jaromir Jagr and then hit a post.
In the first overtime, it was Shawn Thornton who waited a hair too long to try to shoot on a 2-on-1 with Daniel Paille. Minutes later, Tyler Seguin created a chance for Rich Peverley, which he couldn’t convert, and the rebound chance sitting in the crease was cleared before Daugavins could pounce.
In the second overtime, Seguin had another chance, but he couldn’t quite settle the puck on a breakaway. Daniel Paille was turned away by a Corey Crawford kick save late in the period, and a rebound attempt from Torey Krug was stopped by Crawford as well.
And on, and on, and on.
“I thought that in overtime we got better,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “We got a little stronger. We had some great looks, some great opportunities. We just didn’t bury them. Eventually somebody is going to score a goal as fatigue sets in.”
Despite the frustrating nature of the loss, the Bruins aren’t going to run around proclaiming the end is near. This is, for the most part, the same team that dropped two heartbreaking losses to the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 before bouncing back to win four of the final five games in the series en route to winning the Cup.
“Last time we won the Cup, we lost the first two games to Vancouver, and it never stopped us from coming back,” Julien said. “This certainly won’t. When you look at the game, it could have gone either way. I thought we had some really good looks in overtime. Maybe with a little bit of luck we could have ended it before they did.”
There’s no denying that the Bruins will need to be better, though. They did hold a 3-1 lead, and at this time of the year and on the road, that’s a lead you need to protect. Did the Blackhawks get some puck luck when Johnny Oduya‘s game-tying goal deflected off of Andrew Ference‘s skate? Of course they did. However, you work for that luck, and the Hawks did that for much of the third period, where they got the better of the play.
The Bruins will also need someone to step up. The B’s got another great effort from their first line, the David Krejci line, but not a ton from everyone else. Making matters worse is the fact that Boston might be without Nathan Horton moving forward after he suffered what appeared to be some sort of upper-body injury.
But the bottom line is that while the Bruins may have played the equivalent of almost two entire hockey games, it only counts as one in the series standings. The Bruins are down 0-1 in the series. It’s as simple as that. They now have two days to regroup and get ready for Game 2 on Saturday night.
If they can start cashing in on some more of their chances and maybe get a bounce here or there, they’re probably going to like where they are going back to Boston after Game 2.
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