That’s the focus now for the Black & Gold, who were heading home after a 6-4 loss in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.
“Win our last three games, and we’re in the playoffs,” Torey Krug said postgame from the United Center. “We know that. We know what’s at stake. You’ve got to take them one game at a time.”
“I think last year, we got caught up looking a little bit too far ahead of ourselves, but it’s a different story this year. We’re going to take it one game at a time, learn from everything that’s happened so far.”
The Bruins will next host the Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If they win all three, no matter what Detroit does in its other two games, they’re through to the postseason.
The Red Wings sit one point above them in the standings (91 to the Bruins’ 90). They host the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night in an 8:00 p.m. matchup, before playing in Boston the next night, and then finishing the season in New York against the Rangers on Saturday.
For the Black & Gold, it still comes down to taking care of their own business.
“I think the approach has got to be the same, just playing one game at a time and just leaving everything on the ice,” said Patrice Bergeron. “And playing for 60 minutes. We have to do that. We need to realize that 20 or 30 is not good enough.”
The Bruins found themselves in a 6-0 hole on Sunday before they clawed their way back to make it a 6-4 game. They outshot the Blackhawks 38-15 in the final 40 minutes and 17-3 in the final frame.
The momentum was on their side after scoring four straight goals, but they couldn’t finish off the comeback.
“The way that we played, at the end, we’ve got to carry that over,” said Bergeron. “I thought the third period was a perfect example of how we need to play — and we got the goals.”
“I mean, it’s pretty obvious that if we would have played the way we played halfway through,” Bergeron lamented. “But you can’t wait for them to score, I don’t know, four, five goals to get going, especially at this time.”
Boston started the game competing on pucks and had chances. Tuukka Rask was as sharp as ever, robbing Marian Hossa in all alone of his 500th career goal and Artem Anismiov point-blank.
But the Blackhawks took advantage of a power play and a Bruins’ giveaway to take a 2-0 lead into the second period.
With David Krejci in the box for slashing, Boston faced a tough break when Artemi Panarin fanned on a one-timer, and Anisimov potted the slow-moving puck with 6:46 left in the first. Rask was playing the shooter and Zach Trotman fronting the shot.
The Hawks built momentum. When captains Zdeno Chara and Jonathan Toews tussled and got sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct with 2:14 to go in the period, Chicago extended their lead during the 4-on-4.
Joe Morrow’s pass was picked off at the blueline by Patrick Kane, who sped in on the breakaway and roofed a backhander over Rask to make it 2-0 with 1:29 to go in the period.
Chicago ended the period up 2-0, and leading shots 19-8. The boisterous United Center crowd sent the Hawks into first intermission with a loud standing ovation.
“I thought we had our legs, I thought we competed hard. We didn’t have our brains,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “We made some real poor decisions and that, to me, is what cost us. It’s more about — the decision-making’s got to be better.”
The second period didn’t get much better for the Bruins. The Hawks put up two early goals on their first three shots of the period.
Kane put in his second from the goal mouth just 54 seconds in, and Toews easily fired in a pass from Hossa off a 2-on-1 rush 1:06 later to put the Bruins down 4-0.
“When you look at the kind of mistakes we made, outnumbered situations, pinches at the wrong time, making those low percentages passes or plays that turns into a counter that ends up in our net, so those are the major things that really hurt us,” said Julien.
At that point, Julien opted to put Jonas Gustavsson between the pipes, though Rask didn’t have much of a chance on the Hawks’ tallies.
“I don’t think my No. 1 goaltender needed to be exposed any more than that, the way we were playing in front of him and giving up those quality chances,” said Julien. “So it was an opportunity for me to pull him out and maybe even try and change the momentum, but certainly not because of his play.”
“Obviously we weren’t playing our best in the first period, and I was just trying to keep the game tight and feel good, but you know, I guess after a couple of quick ones in the second, it looked like we needed to do something,” said Rask.
David Krejci rang the post right after the switch, and Matt Beleskey had a bid after a faceoff win, but it was the Hawks once again who would score next when Kane fed Panarin in the slot to make it 5-0.
Kane added his third goal of the afternoon off another 2-on-1 rush, with this one coming on the power play after the Bruins had been called for too many men. He finished the game with four points.
“Sometimes you realize how skilled players are and you back off, because you’re worried they might make a move and all of a sudden, you give them time and space and they’re going to make some plays,” said Krug. “Sometimes you give them a little bit too much respect, and they obviously deserve it, but too much respect hurts you in the long run.”
“We just gave pucks away a lot and gave them some room to make plays and obviously they’re a good offensive team and they will make those plays,” said Rask. “We battled back, though, but you give up 6-0, kind of tough to come back from.”
The Bruins played the game without Dennis Seidenberg and Kevan Miller on the back end.
Seidenberg missed his second game with a lower-body injury, though he started skating back in Boston over the weekend. Miller missed this game against Chicago, as well as the final two periods in St. Louis after he sustained a lower-body injury that Julien does not anticipate being major.
“Well, it hurts,” Krug said of playing without them. “We all know what they bring to the table. Both guys work so hard and they battle for us — they block shots, they penalty kill. They do a lot of good things defensively — but we don’t have them, so you can’t sit there and dwell on it.”
Trotman slotted into the lineup for the first time since Mar. 7.
“We have guys who came into the lineup and they’re more than capable to play this solid games, and collectively as a group, we just have to be better,” said Krug. “It’s not about what we’re missing — it’s about what we have, and we’ve just got to make sure we take our next step.”
“You know, it’s just — keep your head in the game and make strong plays, that’s all,” said Rask.
David Pastrnak started the Bruins’ rally with 16 seconds to go in the second period when he fled in on a breakaway and slid the puck by Scott Darling.
Bergeron scored with just 4.5 on the clock in the second to give the Bruins some life heading to the third. He followed that up with his second of the game — and a career-high 32nd of the season — to bring the Bruins within three goals.
The Bruins narrowed the deficit to 6-4 when Krug’s drive went in off Brad Marchand’s leg at 10:09 left in the third.
With the game in their grasp, the Bruins kept pushing and played with an extra attacker for the final two and a half minutes, but they would leave Chicago empty-handed.
Now, they’ll have to wipe this game out of their minds — and focus on getting two points against Carolina on Tuesday.
“Well, you have to. You can’t drag that along here,” said Julien. “I think we need to take care of business here with the few games we have left, so it would be best to focus on that.”
“That’s where you’re going to control your situation, by focusing on that. It’s like a playoff game — whether you lose 1-0 or whether you lose 6-0 or 6-4 like today — you’ve got to park it and move on.”