"Obviously we have a lot to live up to," Milan Lucic said before facing off against the Detroit Red Wings in a matinee at TD Garden on Monday.
Boston set themselves for their own rally, falling down 3-1 in the second period. Lucic, in Game 7 against Toronto fashion, made a late bid, powering in the 100th goal of his NHL career to bring the B's within one with 1:20 to go in regulation.
But the bid fell short, as the Black & Gold fell to the Wings, 3-2. Loui Eriksson had the other Bruins goal, his second in as many games.
"Yeah, we would have liked to be that; definitely had an opportunity," said Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask in the locker room postgame. "In the third period we got some emotion, we got some power plays, we were really just shooting the puck and pushing them, and that’s our game."
"And, you know, it almost paid off, but not quite."
The Bruins threw 30 shots on Jonas Gustavsson, playing in place of Jimmy Howard, who been expected between the pipes but has a hand injury that prevented the start.
It didn't end up being a factor in the game, however, because no matter how many opportunities the B's created for themselves, "we couldn't buy a goal," as Head Coach Claude Julien described it.
The Wings blocked 22 shots and the B's missed the net 17 times, accounting for 69 pucks thrown towards Gustavsson.
"They were blocking a lot of shots, and I thought Gustavsson, he was square to a lot of shots, he was getting, he was doing real well getting side to side and doing post to post and that’s probably the best game I’ve seen him play," said Lucic.
I think we’re pressing right now and that’s probably what you’re seeing. Our guys can score goals; they’ve shown they can do it but we’re just pressing right now. - Claude Julien
"So, you have to give them credit for playing a full team game and blocking a lot of those shots and we had chances where it could have been those rebound scrambled pucks and they were able to block, and I think that’s what kind of stopped us from making it 3-2 earlier."
The Bruins weren't too focused on Detroit's play postgame, however, and more concerned with not being able bury the opportunities they did create.
"We’re really struggling with our finish lately. It looks like we’re feeling the pressure of scoring goals and they’re not coming easy," said Julien. "So it’s been like that. Even the game in Columbus, took us a while to get going there, obviously Colorado."
The Bruins won in Columbus, 3-1, with an empty-netter tacked on, and lost to Colorado, 1-0.
"We go through that it seems like every year at some point," added Julien. "You’re seeing guys either fanning or shooting over the net. There were some scrambles there today where everybody thought the puck was going in the net and whether the goalie stops it or pucks are bouncing, it doesn’t matter."
Lucic, despite adding his three goal in five games to start the season, felt the same.
"I think if you look at the last three games, bearing down is probably the biggest thing when it comes to it, when we get our opportunities," said the winger.
"I think we’re pressing right now and that’s probably what you’re seeing," remarked Julien, stressing that it wasn't a confidence issue with his team.
"Our guys can score goals; they’ve shown they can do it but we’re just pressing right now."
Jarome Iginla is still searching for his first as a Bruin. He fired five shots on goal, had four attempts blocked and two that missed the net. His one-timer was armed and ready on a number of occasions, with at least six of those attempts coming on the power play.
"I think it’s probably just being a little too anxious. Just lifting my head up and you want to get that goal for the team and just get one and get feeling it," said Iginla, of not converting.
"At times you squeeze a little too hard, its all those clichés, sayings you hear, you try to swing a little too hard and lift my head a little bit. And just not in a groove there, where you just want to kind of will it in the net, as opposed to letting it happen."
The B's went 0-for-5 on the night, despite having good movement and spending plenty of time in the offensive zone.
Three of those power plays came in the third period, with 1:53 of 5-on-3 time just over 5:00 in. The B's were trailing 3-1, but the theme was consistent with the rest of the game.
"It was an important time of the game, it could have been a big difference, and you get out there in those situations and you definitely want to help the team and feel responsibility, all of us out there," said Iginla.
"Being good and spending lots of time in the offensive zone getting chances is one thing, it’s a positive thing, but you still have to produce," added Julien. "And right now we haven’t been producing either on that."
Boston hasn't scored on the man-advantage since their 4-1 win over Detroit in the second game of the season, when Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara each converted.
"We didn’t score goals. That’s what we’re judged on," Krug was quick to remark. "They can say we had great puck movement, but that doesn’t matter because our job is to score goals and get momentum for our team."
"There But Didn't React"
By Milan Lucic's count, the B's gave up three scoring chances in the first two periods and the Red Wings converted on all three.
Henrik Zetterberg was the benefactor of a cross-ice feed from Pavel Datsyuk after a Bruins' turnover, Stephen Weiss roofed one from the right circle, and Daniel Cleary snuck one past Rask from in front.
"They scored three goals and all three of those goals were poor coverage on our part – it was of our own doing. We didn’t do the job that we should have done," said Julien.
"We were there but we didn’t react."
They were nice goals, no doubt - something that is not new from the Wings - but Coach felt his club could have easily defended against all of them, that there wasn't full commitment. And Detroit capitalized, like they usually do, when you give them chances.
"We kind of just fell asleep for a second there and the guy had an extra second and all of the sudden the puck is in the net," said Rask, always one to give an honest assessment.
"Just mental errors and it’s not good enough that you’re almost there, you’ve got to get there and have the gas. It’s little mental mistakes, but today it was more costly."
It was a representation of the lost coverage by the B's, something they'll be looking to clean up for their road stretch coming up next, on October 17 and 19 in Florida and Tampa Bay.
"We thrive off team defense and that’s a big part of our success, and good defense leads to a lot of offense for us," said Lucic. "We have to continue harping on that, so it gets to where we want it to be."
As far as finding the back of the net, Iginla, like the rest of the Bruins, is not getting discourage.
"I’m not discouraged by any means. Disappointed today and disappointed when you lose the close games - but not discouraged."
Lucic's Third Period Hitch
Milan Lucic may not have been on the ice for the second half of the third period and his eventual goal that brought the game within one, had it not been for the B's equipment staff.
Just under ten minutes into the third period, with the Bruins trailing 3-1, Adam McQuaid attempted to set up Lucic, and the puck ricochet off the winger's skate, breaking off his achilles protector.
"Quaider tried to hit me off the side of the net which would have ended up being a good play," said Lucic postgame. "It blew it right off so the equipment trainer [Keith Robinson] Keito riveted it back on as quick as possible. It’s the first for me that I’ve seen that it’s done, that it’s happened to me or I’ve seen happen."
He only missed one shift with David Krejci and Jarome Iginla (Brad Marchand slotted in), and was out there to start on the power play with 5:58 left in regulation.
Lucic wasn't too focused on his skate postgame; just the missed opportunities.
"Yeah, I had to take the skate off, but like I said, we had chances, we had our looks. We’ve had our struggles in the past and we’ve always been able to overcome it," said Lucic.
"But it all comes down to, like I said, bearing down."