TORONTO, ON - The desperation came, but it was too little, too late for the Bruins Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
Cliché aside, the men in the spoked-B found a way to fight back from a 3-0 deficit early in the final frame with Dennis Seidenberg's second goal in as many games and and Andrew Ference's deflected shot with the extra attacker on as the clock showed 1:16 left in regulation.
But when the horn sounded, the B's had suffered a 3-2 loss to the Leafs.
Following the game, when Coach Julien was asked by media if it was an especially frustrating loss, he was quick to respond, "Yeah, for a lot of reasons."
"We had a chance to win this game, we had some chances that we missed, an open net first period, hit a couple of posts here and there."
"Frustrating because, again, we played the third period after they made it 3-0."
"It wasn't enough fight in our team tonight to deserve to win," he added. "We've got to continue to battle. Once we find a way to play three periods, like we did after we fell behind 3-0, we'll be okay."
For the second game in a row, the Bruins battled through, finding desperation in the final 20 minutes.
Heading into Saturday night, the B's had held a 2-0-2 record when falling down 2-0 in a game -but playing from behind is never easy.
"We see how we can play, but it doesn't really help playing that way once your down," said Seidenberg. "We've got to start playing that way at the beginning of the game."
The Bruins had been looking to spark their offense against the Leafs, after only putting up four goals in their past three games.
But despite outshooting Toronto 33-13 and sustaining substantial pressure in the offensive zone, they had trouble finding their net drive game, wound up on the wrong end of puck battles and couldn't bury chances.
"The first period, we just didn't have our skating legs, not quite there," said Seidenberg. "We did spend quite a bit in their zone, but we just didn't win the necessary one-on-one battles. We didn't have guys in front of the net, creating chances for goals."
While it's no secret the goal production hasn't been there for the B's as of late, it's not for lack of desire.
"You have to ask those guys," said Seidenberg, when asked about his teammates pressing for scoring. "But there's nothing they would love to do more than get a goal and get the monkey off their back."
"We just have to keep working hard and build off what we did in the third period."
With Coach Julien trying to find a spark in his team after allowing the third Leafs goal early in the final frame that put them down 3-0, he opted to pull Anton Khudobin and place Tuukka Rask in goal.
No. 40 only had to record two saves, but it was more about how the team in front of him would respond.
" I had to give our team a jolt somehow and put Tuukka back in there, and we seemed to turn the corner and start playing a bit more or our game," said Coach Julien on the net minder switch.
"But we shouldn't wait for that to happen."
"Sometimes it happens," said Khudobin on getting pulled. "It was just a self goal by me, Coach felt like changing something in the game. It happens."
"I'm going to learn from that and just keep moving forward."
While stellar netminding gives the B's an edge, above all else moving forward, Coach knows that his team needs to start scoring goals.
"Right now, there are guys that are pressing, it's not easy for them, but we've got to fight our way through it. That's what we've got to do right now."
"Certainly, we're not going to be hanging our heads, but we'll continue to work and eventually we'll find our rhythm again."
The Black & Gold will be looking to find that rhythm right away, with the second game of the home-and-home commencing at TD Garden on Monday night.
"We just got to put this game behind us, regroup, get ready for the same opponent at home," said Captain Zdeno Chara.
"We all know this team, in this room, we know that we are capable of playing much better, obviously, with a lot more desperation."
Bartkowski Comfortable in Role
The Bruins weren't asking call-up Matt Bartkowski to be Johnny Boychuk - they just wanted a simple game from the defenseman who's been called upon before when injuries arise.
"I felt fine out there," said Bartkowski, who played 13:05 in ice time, recording two shots, three hits and a blocked shot. "The systems are so similar it's easy just step in and play right away."
"Bart was good tonight, Bart was fine," said Coach Julien. "Our back end was fine, when you look at those two guys that haven't played much for us this year, whether it was Bart of Johnson, I didn't find there were many issues on the back end."
"Like we said, they only had maybe 13 shots, or so. It was mostly on the offensive side, we've got to be able to produce a little bit more than we did. Unfortunately, 19 minutes, that's not good enough.