After picking up points in seven straight games, they have now gone pointless in their past five, with their most recent win dating back to Mar. 12.
Their latest loss, 4-1 to the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on Thursday night, was just as frustrating — and closer than the final result showed.
Patrice Bergeron thought he had tied the game at 2-2 just over eight minutes into the third period, when he chopped a loose puck towards Roberto Luongo. “No goal” was the call on the ice. The play was reviewed by the NHL’s Situation Room in Toronto for a lengthy amount of time. The puck appeared to cross the goal line near the post.
The official ruling was that “video review was inconclusive in determining whether the puck completely crossed the Florida goal line. Therefore the referee's call on the ice stands - no goal Boston.”
When further replays were shown on the Garden HDX video board, the crowd broke out into a boisterous round of boos.
“I think we all saw that replay and I was shocked,” said Bergeron. “I guess it looked — to me, it looked like it was in — but I don’t know exactly what the rule is and what they were not sure about.”
“And bottom line, they made a call and we had to respond — and we didn’t.”
“I’m as baffled as you are right now,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “And I looked at it many times before coming out here. It looks like it’s in. It looks very conclusive. That’s two in two games now.”
Lee Stempniak thought he had a goal in New York City when the Bruins faced the Rangers on Wednesday night, with Henrik Lundqvist gloving the puck on the goal line. It was also ruled inconclusive and the “no goal” call on the ice stood.
“I’ve got another coach that texted me…’How can that not be a goal?” That’s coming from somebody who’s neutral,” lamented Julien.
It would have been a momentum-changing goal.
“You know, it changes everything,” said Brad Marchand. “Mentally, you can lose your focus and you’re frustrated that on such a blatant call, you have it against you. So it is frustrating.”
Still, the Bruins had plenty of time to find the equalizer.
A tough too many men call left them shorthanded. The Bruins killed the penalty, but Florida struck right after their power play ended. Jussi Jokinen deflected a point shot from the slot past Tuukka Rask to make it 3-1 with 9:04 left in regulation. The Panthers added an empty-netter with 20.9 to go.
“I think we tried to stay into it, you know, and then we take a too many men penalty and they score on that power play,” Julien recounted. “We were determined to try and come back and tie it up again, but there’s no doubt, when you’ve got an opportunity here to get some life, some momentum, and you look at it and what you’re getting is feedback from you’re people it’s a goal and you’re just waiting for them to call it, and then they call it ‘no goal.’”
Given the way the past five games have gone for the Black & Gold, the call was just another further representation of how their frustration has mounted during the stretch.
Other areas of frustration? A team that is third in league scoring, struggling to finish their chances. A team that owned the power play for most of the season, having trouble converting on the man advantage.
The Bruins fired 35 pucks on Luongo, and only put one past him. They had four power play opportunities, and did not break through.
“I mean, bottom line, you have to find a way to score a goal and we didn’t do that,” said Bergeron. “I mean, you can talk about that goal that they took away as much as you want, but at the same time, it’s the rules and you have to find it within yourselves to battle back and to get that goal.”
The start was solid for the Bruins in this game. They came out ready to play. They outshot Florida 15-5 in the first period.
They took a 1-0 lead for the first time in five games, with Ryan Spooner ripping a wrister by Luongo at 7:42 into the second period, with Frank Vatrano and Loui Eriksson providing traffic.
Florida tied it up 1-1 later in the second off a rebound goal and then took a 2-1 lead on a shorthanded tally in the final 1:14 of the period. Boston also lost defenseman John-Michael Liles to a lower-body injury at the end of the period.
After the “no goal” call on Bergeron’s bid in the third, the Panthers ultimately pushed to gain two more important points on the Bruins in the standings, which keep tightening up in the Eastern Conference.
Florida is now at the top of the Atlantic Division with 91 points, followed by Tampa Bay with 89 and Boston with 86. Detroit held on for a 4-3 win over Montreal, putting them at 85 points. All three rivals have a game in hand on the Bruins.
In the Wild Card race, the Philadelphia Flyers picked up two points on Thursday with a 4-2 win over Colorado. They are now at 85 points, with two games in hand on the Bruins. The New York Islanders have 87 points, with two games in hand.
Keeping that close of a watch is daunting. It can be frustrating. So, the method becomes to take a deep breath, get to work, and get the job done.
“You know, I wouldn’t take anything from this game,” said David Krejci, when asked if he would carry over anything from the game against Florida, like maybe the strong start in the first period. “Just going to start fresh. Just forget what happened before — and just focus on the next seven games, game by game.”
“We’re not even in the playoffs yet, so just take it game by game, and whatever happened in the past, happened, but we have to look forward here.”
That is also the approach from the coaching staff.
“You worry about the next game,” said Julien. “That’s what you do. Right now we’re not worrying about anything else. Panicking will certainly not help the situation.”
“We’re still in that playoff position. I keep saying we’re in control of our own destiny, so, you know, if you panic, you’re not going to gain what you want to gain, and if you stay in the moment and try and fix things and try and get better, then you’ve got a chance.”
“I think you have to be a professional and realize that you’ve got to be at your best,” said Bergeron. “Right now, [that’s] all we can really control, and we’re not playing well, so we’ve got to be better.”