That is what befell the Bruins on Saturday night, as they fell 2-1 in the waning seconds of overtime to the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.
“That’s how 3-on-3 goes,” Marchand said. “You’ve got to bury your opportunities. We had a few chances there, and they get one late. So it’s exciting, and fun, but tough way to lose.”
The effort certainly wasn’t lacking for the Bruins on Saturday night, especially considering it was the second leg of a back-to-back. But the B’s readily admitted that, after winning the first of two games in two nights on Friday in New Jersey, they didn’t quite have their legs under them to start the first period against the Sens.
“I thought we had a bit of a slow start,” said Head Coach Claude Julien, who coached in his 900th career game on Saturday night. “The first period wasn’t the greatest for us. We had trouble getting our legs going, and then I didn’t think we were supporting each other very well with the puck. So once we got that corrected in the second period, we got better puck support instead of playing wide, and we got better. We were able to help out on the rush, we were able to chip pucks in and get on them quickly, so those kind of things changed the face of the game a little bit — got our legs going as well.”
Despite the slow start, the Bruins did have their chances in the early going on Saturday, but so did the Senators, and they were the first to capitalize. After Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson blocked a Colin Miller drive from the blueline, he jumped up into the play and fed Mika Zibanejad, who had a step on the defenseman.
Zibanejad came in 1-on-1 against Tuukka Rask and beat him with the backhand to make it 1-0 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the first.
The Bruins, however, proved opportunistic early in the second. Forty-one seconds into the frame, David Pastrnak, who had rotated to the front of the net, tipped in a Zdeno Chara wrister from the blueline to make it a 1-1 game.
“Pasta is a really great player, and he did a really good job going to the net there and tipping that home,” said forward Brad Marchand. “It’s when he does the little things that he makes them even better. So hopefully he continues to play well for us.”
The goal marked Pastrnak’s first with the big club since Oct. 23. Friday night’s game marked his first with the Bruins since late October, when he suffered a foot fracture.
“I haven’t played for a while [in the NHL], haven’t scored in the NHL for a while, so it was a good play, and lucky I got that goal,” Pastrnak said.
All week, the Bruins have repeated it ad nauseam: To score goals, that net-front presence has to be there. On Saturday night, once again, the Bruins made sure they generated traffic in front of Senators goalie Craig Anderson, and it paid off.
“In this league, every goalie, if they make a save, they can see the puck,” Pastrnak said. “So we were focusing on getting in front of the goalie, and that’s how we got the first goal. Too bad we didn’t get more.”
The Bruins improved as the game went along. They gained some steam throughout the final 40 minutes, in which they outshot Ottawa 22-18 after falling behind 16-10 in the first 20 minutes.
But both goaltenders had come to play. Anderson — who also limited the B’s to a single goal almost two weeks ago in this building — held strong in Ottawa’s net, but so, too, did Rask. He would finish the night with 38 saves on 40 shots.
“He made the saves when he had to,” Julien said, “and especially in that first period, there, allowed us to get our legs going and keeping us in the game.”
But the final shot that snuck through him was the game-winner, and it came in transition off the Bruins’ best chance of the overtime frame. After Anderson stoned a Loui Eriksson breakaway bid, the Senators came back the other way and poured a flurry of chances on Rask before one got through off the stick of Mark Stone with just 38 ticks remaining in overtime.
“That’s how it goes,” Eriksson said. “Three-on-three, it’s a lot of chances, and it’s too bad that one didn’t go in and they turn around and they get the game-winner. So it’s a tough one.”
A single point is not exactly any consolation, but it is a point, and it is a point the Bruins desperately need, given the picture painted by the Eastern Conference standings. The B’s fought back from a listless first to get that point, and it leaves them with three of four thus far on this five-game road trip.
“Of course, it’s nice to get one point, but would be nicer to get the win and get the two points,” Eriksson said. “Maybe the first period wasn’t the best, but after that, it was two good teams playing for the win. So it was a good game.”
That effort is something for the Bruins to hang their hats on — for now. But as they await Monday’s date with New York, they certainly have their sights set on more.
“They’re a rested team waiting for you in their home building, and we came out and competed hard,” Julien said. “So again, not unhappy with our effort, and we had a chance to win this game, so we could have easily gone the other way. We’ll take the point and move on, here.”