BOSTON - Playing until the clock hits zero is not just a cliché.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, they learned that the hard way on Saturday night, as Tyler Toffoli's miracle slapper with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Bruins at TD Garden.
"Do you wonder how it could happen?" said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "I mean, if someone told you before they could score in 0.9 seconds - drop the puck, win it and shoot it, you'd probably say I don't know…I don't know.
"Boy, that's tough. I'm not sure you can do it again if you tried it 100 times with no players on the ice."
Video: BOS Recap: Marchand scores as Bruins fall in OT, 2-1
After an icing forced the Bruins into a faceoff in their own end, the Los Angeles Kings called a timeout and pulled goalie Jonathan Quick, creating a 4-on-3 advantage. Anze Kopitar won the draw cleanly back to Toffoli, who was positioned at the top of the circle and ripped one by Tuukka Rask at the buzzer. A short review confirmed that the puck crossed the goal line before time expired.
"You can't take it for granted, but I guess I did," said Rask, who was making his return from a concussion and was playing his 400th career game. "You always try to prepare for every single scenario, what might happen and it just happened so quickly that I had no time to pick that puck up there and before I noticed it was in the back of the net. I just think you try to stay strong and make a save."
The striking turn of events left the Bruins lamenting the final seconds of what could have been a much different outcome. The icing left Boston with two wingers (David Pastrnak and Anders Bjork) and a defenseman (Torey Krug) on the ice and prevented Cassidy from deploying one of his centers for the draw. As a result, Pastrnak, who had taken just one other faceoff in the game (a win), was called upon to take the draw.
"Clearly with two wingers on the ice, that's where you look back as a coach," said Cassidy. "But when you make a change with 12 seconds left to put some offensive players on the ice, you're not thinking about an iced puck, to be honest with you. And I learned a lesson tonight.
"You don't even think that can happen. And to travel through a defenseman and a forward, and a goaltender untouched is the last part of it. There were some things we could have done better, clearly, to prevent that goal."
Video: The Bruins react after a OT loss to the Kings
One option that the Bruins were left pondering, and Cassidy proposed during L.A.'s timeout, was taking a faceoff violation. The penalty would have put the Bruins at a 5-on-3 disadvantage, but would have allowed Boston the chance to substitute in a center.
"Maybe we should've taken a faceoff penalty and then it's only 5-on-3 and [Patrice Bergeron] is able to hop over the boards and take the faceoff," said Krug. "Maybe that's something that we probably should've done. It's a bad icing by me. I just said before, I put our team in that situation and we couldn't overcome it."
The unlikely ending capped a furious overtime session that included golden opportunities on both sides, as Rask and Quick were forced into several Grade-A saves each. Boston appeared to have the winner on at least three separate occasions, including a breakaway chance by Bjork and two Charlie McAvoy one-timers from in tight off feeds from Brad Marchand.
"I mean great goaltending, everyone knows that," said McAvoy, who has six assists over his last six games. "But when you get chances like that, you gotta score. I gotta find a way to put those in there. Marchy makes two great plays there - two blank point chances, so I gotta score."
Video: LAK@BOS: Rask snags MacDermid's deflected wrister
Despite the heartbreaking conclusion, the Bruins were ultimately pleased with a strong effort against the Kings, who improved to 9-1-1 with the victory.
"I hope we can take a lot of positives out of this game," said Bergeron. "Yes, we are not happy with the way it ended…we have to clarify some things, a couple miscommunications here and there.
"It was a hard played game and we stayed with them and, you know, there's definitely some positives to take out of it, especially for the young guys."
Boston opened the scoring on a nifty connection between McAvoy and Marchand. McAvoy sneaked down the left wing and delivered a sweet feed across the slot that Marchand redirected by Quick for a 1-0 lead at 5:27 of the first.
"He made a great play," said Marchand, who has 11 points over his last six games. "He's a very talented player and did a really good job on holding on long enough for me to get to an opening and made a phenomenal pass."
Video: LAK@BOS: Marchand taps home McAvoy's feed in front
Los Angeles responded about 3 ½ minutes later when Toffoli capitalized on a turnover and beat Rask with a backhander - which was the Kings first shot of the game - to knot things at 1.
"I told somebody yesterday that it would be good to get a couple shots early and get a feel for the game but it didn't quite happen," said Rask. "You know we got some shots and saves and felt good after that."
Overall, it was a strong night for Rask, who made 28 saves in his first contest after missing three games with a concussion.
"He was good," said Cassidy. "Both goaltenders were terrific, I thought, made some big saves. We're having trouble getting some run support for Tuukka right now. He did his job. He gave us a chance to win. We certainly them in overtime. You have to tip your hat to their guy too in overtime. He made some big stops."
Video: LAK@BOS: Rask robs Iafallo with great glove save