MONTREAL - The Bruins did not have much going for them entering Tuesday night. It was the second night of a back-to-back. In Montreal. Against the NHL's best team.
It was not necessarily a recipe for success.
But the Bruins made true the old adage: that's why they play the games. Nothing is set in stone.
Boston carried play for much of the night, outshooting Montreal. But it wasn't quite enough as the Bruins dropped a heart wrenching 3-2 decision at Bell Centre.
A power-play goal from David Pastrnak with 13:22 left in the third period knotted the game, but Paul Byron's dagger with just 1:02 to go put an end to the Bruins' hopes of knocking off the league-leading Canadiens.
But while Boston did not come away with a victory against the rival Canadiens, the Bruins - disappointed for sure - left Montreal feeling better about where their game is headed.
Video: BOS Recap: B's offense stumbles in 3-2 loss to Habs
"We deserved better," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "I think we even deserved to win this game. We played well enough that you look at the chances, the shots on net, our power play overall, I thought we deserved much more than we got tonight.
"Disappointing in a way and encouraging in another that we played this well on a back-to-back game in this kind of situation. I think if we keep the right attitude and the same focus, we'll win more than we lose playing this way."
The Bruins came out firing, opening up a 14-5 shot advantage in the first period, but couldn't get one past Carey Price. Ultimately, it was Montreal that opened the scoring when Shea Weber launched a missile from the right point on the power play that blew by Zane McIntyre at 3:58 of the second for a 1-0 lead.
The goal set off a wild minute of play, during which two more goals were scored - one by each team. Just 51 seconds after Weber's tally, Colin Miller knotted the scored with his first of the season.
Only 20 seconds after that, Montreal regained the lead when Alex Galchenyuk settled a bouncing puck on a two-on-one break and backhanded it over the glove of McIntyre.
"To get scored on with just over a minute left is unacceptable," said David Backes. "I'm on the ice…we'll own that. It feels like a game that we should have gotten some points out of. Instead, we're going home not feeling too great about the result.
"But concentrating on the process, we're certainly making steps in the right direction. Now it's getting what we've started to work towards and find a way to get the right result.
"These games are going to matter come April when they count up all the standings and all the games. Tough pill to swallow today, no question."
McIntyre Filling in Nicely
Zane McIntyre got the start in place of Tuukka Rask and made 20 saves. He has now played two NHL games - at Madison Square Garden and Bell Centre.
He has acquitted himself well in both contests, an impressive feat for the rookie netminder.
"I think it's obviously a great place to play," McIntyre said about Bell Centre. "They have very knowledgeable fans and it's a very intense spot to play. I think knowing that going in, I just tried to settle in early and make some saves and not try to make it any better than it is.
"Just keep it simple, play hockey and let the play come to me."
Video: BOS@MTL: McIntyre denies Byron with tough stop
McIntyre was not thrilled with how he played the winning goal, but is intent on learning from everything - both good and bad - he is faced with.
"Every goal you take notes on," said McIntyre. "I think you look at what you can do better, how you can improve, what you did good, too."
Julien has been pleased with the performance of his backup, who has not been placed in the easiest of situations.
"He's played well," said Julien. "He's given us chances to win hockey games, some big saves and held onto those pucks when he had to. That's all you can ask for a guy who's come in to help us out."
Starting to Click
The Bruins' power play has now scored four goals in the last two games, after tallying just three through the season's first 11 contests.
Boston moved the puck quickly and efficiently on Pastrnak's power-play tally in the third period. Both Brad Marchand and John-Michael Liles garnered assists on the goal with strong passes along the tops of the circles.
Video: BOS@MTL: Pastrnak evens score with PPG from Liles
"Our power play has been better," said Julien. "Again, whether you take smaller strides or whether you take big strides, as long as it's going in the right direction we'll accept that. I think tonight we had some opportunities to move the puck pretty well in their end and had some chances.
"When you end up playing against the best goaltender in the world it takes perfect shots and it takes a lot of hard work in order to score on those guys."
Miller: "I'll Take It"
Colin Miller potted his first goal of the season in the loss, thanks to a friendly bounce in the normally hostile environment that is Bell Centre.
After falling down to one knee to keep the puck in the zone, Miller simultaneously fired the puck to towards the net. The puck caromed off the end boards and trickled into the crease where it hit off the back of Price and bounced into the net.
"I was just trying to hit [Ryan Spooner] there," said Miller. "Spoons went to the net and I just tried to hit his stick and got lucky, went in off [Price's] skate. I'll take it,
"I don't think that happens very often on Carey Price. We'll take it moving forward. I've been getting shots, so if I just keep getting shots through they'll go in."
Video: BOS@MTL: Miller beats Price on awkward bounce