Bruins again must put overtime setback in the past
BOSTON -- Twice already in the Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins have felt the agony of overtime defeat.
The first time, they struggled out of the gate in the opening period of Game 2 after losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in triple overtime in Game 1. Now that the Bruins are headed to Game 5 on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. EST; NBC, CBC, RDS) with the best-of-7 series tied 2-2 because of a 6-5 overtime loss in Game 4 on Wednesday, they are hopeful they can bounce back a little quicker.
The Bruins wound up pulling out that Game 2 victory (also in overtime), but they'd rather bounce back in a less difficult manner as they try to grab the series lead.
Boston center Chris Kelly said the biggest lesson from Game 3 for his team was to make sure it is ready to play at the outset of the next game.
"I think being prepared right from the start and playing a consistent game," Kelly said Thursday on the Bruins' off day at TD Garden. "I don't think our effort was there for the entire 60-plus minutes. There were some good times and some bad times, and I think just being a more consistent hockey team."
The core of the Bruins has been through every experience imaginable over the past several seasons. The ecstasy of a Stanley Cup championship, the agony of a first-round defeat, the bitterness of losing a large lead in a series and the elation of coming from behind to prevail in a best-of-7 format.
So it shouldn't be too difficult for a veteran-laden club to forget one series-evening defeat on home ice. The Bruins should be able to direct their attention to the future with little trouble.
"It is part of the mindset. You have to," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I think it's important that you put yourself in that position and you believe that you have to put that game aside because otherwise you'll just drag it on for a couple of days. I don't think anything positive will come out of just worrying about what happened last night. Like anything else, we could have lost 10-0 or you lose in overtime. A loss is a loss in the playoffs. You hear people saying that all the time.
"We just have to look at ourselves here, what can we do to be better for the next game versus what could we have done better last night. Nothing you can do about it today, but you can do something about if for the next game."
The Bruins hadn't allowed more than four goals in a playoff game this season. Now that they've allowed six in one contest, they know where they have to buckle down. Obviously, the Blackhawks played their best offensive game of the series. They took the ice with a sense of desperation that was hard for Boston to match. It also helped that Chicago coach Joel Quenneville reunited a line of Jonathan Toews centering Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell, a trio that had been successful in the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings.
Boston credited Chicago's elevated level of play and its strategic adjustments. But the Bruins also know how much better they can be in order to make sure the next time they score five or more goals in one game (something they've now done five times in the postseason), those will be enough to hold up in a victory.
"Yeah, I think we know how to play hockey and we know how to play the game that makes us successful," Kelly said. "There's certain aspects of last night's game that we played that doesn't bring us success. And we'll correct it."
Forward Brad Marchand said, "Yeah, I think we let them have too much speed. And they skated their way too much through the neutral zone, and we didn't get on our forecheck enough and create turnovers. So we definitely have to get back to that."
The Bruins haven't lost two in a row in the playoffs since the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins lost Game 5 and 6 of that series before their miraculous comeback and overtime win in Game 7. Since then, they're 10-3. Although it took them nine games to get through the second and third rounds prior to facing the Blackhawks, the Bruins weren't expecting a walkover against the Presidents' Trophy winners. In fact, they're just about where they expected to be through four games.
"Yeah, I don't think anybody expected to come into this series and win it in four or five games, on either side," Marchand said. "At 2-2, we've got to be happy with that. Chicago was dominant all year and we're just happy that we're sticking in it.
"We're sticking right with them. They're playing great hockey and it's a back-and-forth game every night. And our goalies are playing well, lots of opportunities, so they're very close games, very exciting and it's been a fun series to be a part of."
It'll be more fun for the Bruins if they can apply their Game 4 lessons and prevail in Game 5.