BOSTON — Even though the Bruins shook off a sluggish start against the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night, the Black and Gold couldn’t put together their “A-Game” for the entire game resulting in a 4-3 shootout loss in front of another sellout crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden.
With a win, the Bruins would have clinched the Northeast Division crown. And they certainly had their chances when they entered the second intermission with a 3-2 lead with second period goals from Brad Marchand (a shorthanded goal at 2:09), David Krejci (his 13th of the year at 3:08) and Andrew Ference (his third of the season at 8:31, just 1:25 after Joffery Lupul’s 12th of the season).
But much like their last meeting at the TD Garden, the Bruins couldn’t secure the victory and the Northeast Division title on this night.
Lupul added his second goal of the game at 7:13, his 13th and Nazem Kadri netted the shootout winner.
“It’s tough obviously. We didn’t have the start we wanted,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic about the team’s slow start in the first period, where they trailed 1-0. “I feel like we kind of came out flat at the start there. But we had a great second period and we had chances in the third and in overtime, to get that fourth goal. And we even had chances to make it 4-2, but it seems like this year against this team they’ve always been able to hang around and they get one chance in the third and they capitalize.
“But we knew they were going to come out hard tonight and they did and unfortunately we didn’t get the win.”
As Lucic noted, the Bruins had their share of chances to secure two points, especially in overtime.
Moments after Tim Thomas (31 saves) stoned Mikhail Grabovski on a penalty shot, the Black and Gold earned a power play for 65 seconds when Lupul was called for slashing. But like it did all night, the Bruins couldn’t capitalize with the man-advantage, going 0-for-5 on the power play.
“We certainly weren’t as good a team as we can be tonight,” said head coach Claude Julien. “We didn’t bring our A-game and because of that, we ended up with just one point.”
Even with the loss, the Bruins inch a little closer to securing the Northeast division with their one point. They’ll have their chance again Saturday afternoon when the Atlanta Thrashers come to town for the final meeting of the season.
At this point of the season, the points are vitally important and no team can be taken for granted even if their playoff chances are virtually slim, like the Thrashers.
“We have to move on,” Lucic stated. “Obviously we would have liked to get that second point here tonight, but we can take some positives out of this game and look over some stuff that we need to work on. But it’s not going to be easy come Saturday afternoon.”
After beating the likes of Montreal, Philly and Chicago the past few games, some might have considered Thursday’s game a little bit of a let down with the division title in reach.
Even though they only got the one point, the Bruins are looking to put the result behind and move forward.
“I don’t think we’re going to start hanging our heads because we didn’t play our A-game tonight,” Julien noted. “We’ve been a pretty good team and tonight wasn’t as good of an effort. It’s got to come back on Saturday. We’ve got to bounce back with a solid game and get us back on track.”
This post also appeared on Inside Hockey