Rookie Blake Wheeler, who assisted on Chuck Kobasew’s goal in the first period, but missed an open net in the third session and hit the post in the shootout, took much of the blame for the loss on his own shoulders.
Sitting in front of his locker, he answered question after question about the loss.
“You've got to just finish,” he said. “We were 8/10ths of a second away from two points and feeling pretty good about ourselves the way we came back.
“And it just didn't work out that way.”
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien did not agree with the first-year forward’s assessment of the afternoon.
"There were mistakes that were made far before regulation even ended that got them back in the game," said Julien of the Blues comeback. "That was more the story to me, anyway, than him missing an open net or missing in the shootout.
"It should have never gotten to that."
Right wing Michael Ryder, Wheeler's linemate for most of the season, also came to the defense of the Bruins freshman.
"Things like that happen," said Ryder. "I can't remember how many open nets I've missed.
"There are a lot of other things you can look at to say why we lost -- I don't think it's Blake's fault."
Julien had elaborated on his reasoning.
“The reality is right now we can’t be the same team that people have seen since the beginning of the year – not with that many injuries,” he said. “We just have to look at our lineup, and I think it’s important that people know that we’ve got to grind it out a little more like we did last year.
“It’s frustrating for everybody; it’s frustrating for the players, frustrating for the fans and people that have seen our team in better situations before.
“You’ve just got to grind it out, and, I guess, chalk it up as one of those losses that should have been a win. We got a point out of it, but still, it was ours for the taking,” he said.A Change’ll Do You Good
Speaking of Ryder and Wheeler, after a loss to Washington on Saturday night, the Bruins top two offensive lines looked a little different at the start of this afternoon’s game.
“Any time you have some of your top guys out, you have to refine your game plan a little bit,” said Wheeler before the game to WBZ Newsradio’s Dave Goucher. “But I think for us as a team, we have to stick with what’s been successful” no matter what the lines are.
“[We need to] stick with coach’s game play – they’ve got it that way for a reason – and we just have to stay true to that, and we should be fine,” he said.
This time around, the first line featured Wheeler, Marc Savard
and Kobasew, who got the ball rolling with an early goal. Just 4:26 into the first period, Kobasew put a pass from Wheeler into Manny Legace’s goal to give the Bruins an early lead.
However, the second line of P.J. Axelsson, David Krejci
and Ryder really stepped things up to give the B’s a fighting chance with only a few minutes left.
After trailing for most of the game, Ryder scored a five-on-three goal with 4:44 remaining, and Axelsson gave Boston a 3-2 lead with another power play goal with 4:25 left in the game.Wideman’s Alright
Despite a hard knee-to-knee hit by Alex Ovechkin and an absence from Sunday’s practice at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman remained in the lineup this afternoon.
“It usually takes a lot for him to stay out of the lineup, and again, this is a decision made not only by him but by us,” said coach Julien before the contest. “If there was a high-risk thing, he wouldn’t be in the lineup today. If he wasn’t able to give us what we expect out of him, he wouldn’t be in the lineup today, either.
And while Wideman hobbled off the ice post-hit during Saturday’s game and remained slightly hindered throughout the rest of it, Julien didn’t blame Ovechkin for any dirty play.
“I think his goal was to eliminate…the puck and not give him the blue line, and it was a collision, it was knee-to-knee,” said Julien, adding that it was really up to the league to determine a review.
“If nothing has been done about it, it’s because they didn’t feel it necessary,” he said.
Wideman finished the game having played 26:27.
---Angela Latona contributed to this report.