BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla's season ended on the same sheet of ice as it did a year ago. Each of the past two seasons ended well short of his ultimate goal: his first Stanley Cup championship.
Iginla and the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins were swept by the Bruins in four straight last season in the Eastern Conference Final. This season, Iginla joined the Bruins, and the Presidents' Trophy winners were ousted by the Montreal Canadiens in a seven-game Eastern Conference Second Round series.
Iginla scored the Bruins' lone goal in a 3-1 defeat in Game 7 on Wednesday at TD Garden.
"I don't think stunning is the right word. I think that everybody knows, I've been in the League a long time and guys here have been a long time. You've got to have things," Iginla said in a voice that was barely audible. "You can be a very, very good team, which we are. But you also have to … there's lots that goes into it and you're playing other good teams that want it badly too. So we didn't take anything for granted, and you know before you suit up for a Game 7 that it's going to be somebody, but when you're playing it you always believe it's going to be them. So it's tough to take. It's hard.
"You know the year has been a lot of fun. It's been great here being with these guys, and like I say it's as good a chance as I've had with a group. And it's very hard to take today."
Iginla has been closer to winning the Stanley Cup. He went all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final with the Calgary Flames in 2004 before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That Calgary team, like the Bruins this year, failed to close out a series after going up 3-2. Iginla's Flames teams failed to get out of the first round four times after that run to the Final. Iginla was traded to Pittsburgh last season, and the Penguins scored two goals in four games against the Bruins in the conference final.
Iginla decided to sign a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the Bruins last summer after forward Nathan Horton left Boston for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Iginla shared the team lead with 30 goals as part of his 61 points and was a consistent offensive threat all season. He had five goals and two assists in 12 postseason games.
Despite the bitterness of the loss being fresh, Iginla was able to reflect positively on his season in Boston. He's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"Oh it's been amazing. It's been an amazing run," Iginla said. "It's a wonderful group of guys, and it's the best. You know, we won the Presidents' Trophy and it was the best regular season I've been a part of. And just with coming together, you know the group was already tight, but bringing us new guys in like myself, Loui Eriksson, [Reilly Smith], a lot of guys that they made feel part of it. And it was a great regular season.
"Playoffs … we win this game, it's one game, things have got to go your way. We look at it, we know we can be better in certain areas. But you've got to give them credit too. They played very hard and played well. But it's hard, it's hard. We know we were a very, very good team and had a great shot."
With his team trailing 2-0 Wednesday, Iginla put the Bruins on the board with a power-play goal at 17:58 of the second period. Center David Krejci fed the puck back to defenseman Torey Krug, who snapped a shot from the top of the left circle. Iginla raised his stick and tipped it past Montreal goaltender Carey Price.
Iginla's net-front presence was one of the things he brought to the Bruins. He also emerged as a leader and an example for some of Boston's younger players, including veteran linemates Krejci and left wing Milan Lucic. There's no telling where he'll wind up next season, but it's obvious the Bruins would like him to stay put.
"He had a good year. Thirty goals. Again, those 30-goal scorers are hard to find," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "[He] certainly scored some goals for us in playoffs as well, gave us some life there in the second period. So he's an unbelievable player, but also an unbelievable person. He's great. He fit in beautifully in our room with our players and certainly he was a real important, I thought, part of the success that we had after losing Nathan Horton at the last minute. To get him, to be able to get him as the guy to come in and replace him, we got lucky."
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