PITTSBURGH, PA - Going into Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day matinee, the charged up Bruins were coming off their emotional win over the Capitals on Saturday, and the Penguins were looking to extend an eight-game winning streak.
But both teams were also heading into their third game in four days and the second game of back-to-backs, after having faced each other on Tuesday night.
When the horn sounded, the B’s saw a tight, perimeter with not too many scoring chances at either end, turn into just their fifth regulation loss of the season, falling to the Penguins 2-1.
“Today, to me, was a typical playoff game, I thought we played well, we played hard, so did they,” Coach Julien told media from the visiting team locker room at CONSOL Energy Center following the game. “It was a tight game, it ended up as a 2-1 hockey game, which I think both teams had a chance to win.”
When asked if he had been frustrated with not being able to bury chances - as the B’s outshot the Pens 32-18 and 12-3 in the final frame - Coach Julien was quick to defend his team.
“The thing we’ve got to be careful of here is, I’m not disappointed in our effort here today,” said Coach. “Again, it’s our third game in four days, I thought we competed hard, I thought we had a chance to win.”
“When you say outshot them, I thought we spent more time in their end and we did all the things right, except that we couldn’t get that goal. There’s a couple of times where the goalie was out and we shot a puck and it looked like it was going in and it hits a skate and goes wide. You get those games and you get those nights.”
“The effort was there, I thought it was a good game by both teams. Again, both teams played their third game in four nights and I thought we both showed a lot of energy.”
The B’s starting goaltender, Tuukka Rask, had the game’s best viewpoint from the crease, and he too, made the assessment that the teams displayed the same effort on the ice.
“I think you could tell it was the third game in four nights for both teams. I don’t know how it looked up there [in the press box],” Rask told media gathered in the locker room. “Dump in, dump in, change, stuff like that, not a lot of chances. But, it was a tight game, it was up there for grabs, just couldn’t capitalize.”
The game saw all three goals take place within eight minutes at the end of the first period. Pittsburgh got on the board first off the always hot hands of Sidney Crosby, and ended up taking a 2-1 lead with 32 seconds left in the first.
But before the Pens could get their 2-1 lead and hold it, Tyler Seguin tied it up 1-1 on his 10th of the season. And then nearly tied it 2-2 with a wraparound late in the third.
“On the goal we scored, that was from pressure and the forecheck. When we do that, we’re obviously at our best,” said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron postgame.
“But, you’re right, it was more back and forth,” he added, when media inquired about the tight game. “We couldn’t get that extra goal to, at least, get to overtime.”
“Well, I thought in the first period it was more of two teams doing a good job in the offensive zone and struggling in the D zone,” said Coach Julien. “When we were in their end, we had a lot of time and the same thing for them. I thought we just got a little bit better in our own end as the game went on and put a little bit more pressure in the offensive zone, we just couldn’t get that next goal we needed.”
The consensus in the B’s locker room was that the tight game could have gone either way, but, this time around, they ended up just short.
“Seggy had that close wraparound that went straight through the crease. If that hits off something, usually it hits off somebody, if it’s that close and goes in it’s a different game,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
“Usually, you’d like to see a bounce like that,” said Seguin on the chance.
“We were really competing well. When we went in our own zone, they were kind of doing the same thing we were. I think if we had that intensity we did in the offensive zone in our D zone, I think it would have worked out better for us.”
“We played well,” echoed his linemate Bergeron. “But couldn’t and we should’ve found a way to get at least that goal to push it to overtime. The chances were there, maybe if we had a little bit more traffic in front of Vokoun, he made some good saves. But, still, we’ve got to be a little harder.”
“We both played three in four and I think it was our sixth game in nine days,” said Brad Marchand. “It’s a bit of a grueling schedule right now, but at the same time, you’ve got to find a way to come through and continue to battle. Every point matters.”
-Caryn Switaj ^CS