A win over the Jets would have sent them home with five out of six points on a road trip through Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg.
But a tough start, combined with passing up shots for the "cute" plays and no bounces their way, led to a 2-1 loss for the Bruins. They head home to Boston with three of six points, after picking up an overtime win in Minnesota and a point in a shootout loss to Nashville.
"I'm not happy. Because we could have came back - the way we were playing - we could have came back with five out of six," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame on Friday, assessing his team's trip as a whole.
"And if we're happy with that (three out of six points), we're going to be on vacation there in the beginning of April. We're going to need more than that, to be honest with you. We've got to string some wins together here and this was an opportunity that we missed [Friday night]."
The Bruins had Thursday off in Winnipeg after a back-to-back against the Predators and Wild. They were well-rested.
A tough break 24 seconds into the game, when Torey Krug's clearing attempt when into the stands for a delay of game penalty, didn't help. The Bruins made the kill, but shortly after, a deflection trickled through Tuukka Rask and Evander Kane punched in the loose puck at 3:12 into the first.
"Right now, I can't afford to make those mistakes," said Rask.
Boston had to kill another penalty just 46 seconds after the Jets made it 1-0, and couldn't gain momentum in the first period. They were outshot 16-4 in the opening frame.
"They were ready to play and we weren't," Rask said. "We had a day off, time to get some rest and you'd think that there's no excuses in the world not to be ready, and we weren't. But luckily we survived that first period and then regrouped after and second and third we played pretty good, but just same old story. Just not getting rewarded and not doing enough things right."
The Bruins outshot the Jets in the final two periods, at one points owning a 25-10 shots advantage through the second and third. They finished the game with 31 shots on goal, to the Jets' 27.
But it wasn't the start in particular that plagued the Bruins in this one.
"Well you know, we can look at that. I don't think it's the reason we lost - we didn't have a good start, but the biggest thing for me is that we passed up on so many shot opportunities and looked for the cute plays and that's not our team," said Julien.
The Bruins tied it up 1-1 at 4:49 into the second period, when Krug potted a rebound after Chris Kelly was robbed by Michael Hutchinson following a two-on-one rush with Carl Soderberg.
The way they controlled the play and sustained pressure in the second period, they appeared to be in good shape. But no rewards came.
The Jets took a 2-1 lead late in the second period, with just 23.0 on the clock. With the puck in the neutral zone, Winnipeg regrouped and worked the puck around. With a scramble in front of Rask, who was stick-less, the Jets rotated the puck high.
A drive from Dustin Byfuglien was deflected by Mathieu Perreault, hit two bodies in front and found a way in.
"The effort came back in the second, we played well in the second, we played well in the third. We really upped our game and if you're shooting and doing the right things, I think we were in a position, we had tied the game at 1-1," said Julien. "And then we give that goal with 23 seconds left. We don't play through players and they keep the puck in the middle of the ice and they put it back in and then we don't box out and it's in our net."
"Costly mistakes end up in our net and then the lack of wanting to put pucks at the net with a purpose versus trying to be cute, which is not our team, is what we struggled with."
On a number of occasions throughout the game, the Bruins had promising chances, whether off the rush, on the power play or by cycling in the zone, but they passed up the opportunity to shoot.
"You just have to look at the scoresheet - there's guys that end up with no shots and all that stuff and you say, with the amount of ice and positions they're put in, they should be getting shots at the net," said Julien. "We need more out of certain players, no ifs or buts about that."
Loui Eriksson had a prime chance when he broke away all alone in front of Hutchinson, but he couldn't settle the puck and get a shot off.
"I had too much time to do something there. I should keep it simple and try to get a shot quick there," said Eriksson.
With David Krejci and Zdeno Chara back in the lineup, the Bruins were trending in the right direction, despite still struggling with inconsistent play. With them back, the Black and Gold are still working through a tough start to the season, especially in the production department.
"Scoring goals, that's what's missing right now," said Chara, of the what's missing, with nearly everyone back healthy now. "You know, it's one of those things that we need to I guess, a little bit of luck, maybe a bounce here or there. You know, it's tough to explain but I think right now, that's the one thing we're missing the most, being more productive and scoring goals the would give us leads in the games, and get away from just one-goal or two-goal games."
Pushing forward with that shoot-first mentality will be at the top of the list for the Bruins as they head back to Boston to host two home games against Buffalo and Nashville before the three-day Christmas break.
"One thing, growing up, I always thought about when I wasn't scoring or when the team wasn't scoring, was just shoot everything," said Krug. "And maybe that's the mentality we have to take on and moving forward, maybe if we do take that mentality, pucks will start taking weird bounces and going in the net."
It's been tough for the Bruins to point to one reason why they haven't been able to play their game night after night this season.
"We have all our guys back now playing and we just need to find that style we had, how we played last year - we were working hard as a team, we were tough to play against all the time and we were playing 60 minute games and that's how we won games," said Eriksson. "Now we're a little bit loose sometimes and making them get the puck more and they're winning all the battles out there like you saw in the first and we can't let that happen."
"We have to be better than that."
These next two games for the Bruins will have an increased importance. Florida is still above them in the playoff standings and even if the season is barely halfway gone, they are thinking of the bigger picture, like their bench boss.
"You talk about game to game. [On Friday], we had a chance to climb in the standings and we didn't jump on that opportunity," said Krug. "We definitely do need to start looking and understanding with the second half of the season approaching, we need to be better."
"And in order to get better, we need to have everybody focused and everybody pulling on one side of the rope and no stragglers."