BOSTON - It felt like a team of destiny.
From the opening days of camp on the Great Wall of China, to a thrilling New Year's Day victory at the Winter Classic, to an electrifying run to the Stanley Cup Final, this edition of the Boston Bruins was a special one.
The journey, however, did not end the way anyone in Black & Gold expected.
In the first-ever Stanley Cup Final Game 7 in Boston, the Bruins fell to the St. Louis Blues, 4-1, concluding one of the best seasons in franchise history on a sour note.
"It's hard to find words. It's not easy," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "I'm sure everyone pictured it differently. We believed that it was there for us. That's sport. You have to take those and move on."
Video: Bruce Cassidy talks after Game 7
The Bruins came out with a strong opening 15 minutes and outshot St. Louis, 12-4, in the first period, but somehow came out of the frame facing a 2-0 deficit. Boston had a number of golden opportunities in the early going, but St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington made several Grade-A stops.
"You obviously want to get the first one," said David Krejci. "But we had lots of good chances in the first period. I thought we outplayed them and they got a lucky one. It was tough to come back."
Ultimately, St. Louis struck first when Ryan O'Reilly - who took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP - tipped home Jay Bouwmeester's shot from the point with 3:13 remaining in the first period. But the dagger came with 7.9 seconds left in the period when the Blues capitalized on a bad line change with Alex Pietrangelo's backhander by Tuukka Rask.
"It was tough," said Rask, who faced just four shots in the first. "We created a lot of chances and shots and I barely made a save and it was 2-0. I really wanted to make one of those saves, didn't, but we tried to battle back and they're a tough team to beat when they have the lead."
Video: Rask talks after Game 7
Neither team scored in the second period, but St. Louis ended all hopes of a miraculous Bruins comeback when Brayden Schenn scored with 11:25 gone in the third. Zach Sanford added another with 4:38 to go to make it 4-0, before Matt Grzelcyk finally got the Bruins on the board with 2:10 remaining.
"It's tough to describe that heartbreak," said Brad Marchand. "You never know when you'll get that chance again. It could be the last one for all of us…when you're that close, and it doesn't happen, it hurts."