BOSTON — It was not the end result that the Bruins were looking for, but it’s at least one point in the standings.
While that might sound like a losers mentality (to some), the fact is it could have been a lot worse than the 3-2 shootout loss they suffered in the hands of the Washington Capitals Thursday night at the TD Garden.
“It’s a disapointing loss, but I liked the way we came back,” said forward David Krejci, who pulled the Bruins within one after deflecting a Zdeno Chara shot at 16:50 of the third period. “We just need to try to take the positive out of this game and move on.”
After both teams played flat and uninspired hockey for 48 minutes, the Caps broke the ice with goals from former Bruin Dennis Wideman (his 11th of the year) and Marcus Johansson (his 14th) just 1:55 apart at 7:59 and 9:54 of the third period, respectively. However, the Bruins’ offense finally clicked with Krejci’s tally and Ference’s tying goal at 18:44 of the final stanza to force overtime.
Brooks Laich eventually got the shootout winner for the desperate Caps. However, the response from the Black and Gold caught the eye of coach Claude Julien.
“There was half a period left, and our guys battled back,” he said. “And if we could get that one goal that would give us the energy that we needed. We got that goal and from there we seemed to have a little bit more energy.”
Although the Black and Gold did not clinch a playoff spot Thursday, they pulled within a point of accomplishing that feat for the fifth straight season under Julien. Another similar result against the New York Islanders on Saturday will indeed stamp their ticket to the postseason beginning in mid-April.
More importantly, the Bruins created more distance over the Ottawa Senators as they extended their Northeast Division lead to six points with five games remaining in the 2011-12 regular season, while their lead over the third place Florida Panthers — the leaders of the Southeast Division — is at four points (both Florida and Ottawa also have five games left).
While that all sounds good, Julien admitted that he is still doing a little scoreboard watching this late in the year.
“I think you can’t stop watching that,” he said. “There’s still some situations [to watch]…and when you look at what happened tonight against Washington, if we could have beat them then we could have clinched. But because we didn’t, we’re still in the same boat we were before the game.”
That seems to be the mentality in the Bruins’ dressing room, too, according to captain Zdeno Chara.
“Well we knew [we could clinch], but it doesn’t mean that we can stop thinking about our goal,” said the 6-foot-9 defenseman. “We knew that it would be kind of a secure position as far as playoffs, but I think that we can’t be thinking right now that ‘ok all have to do is just get another two points,’ and that somebody has to lose to clinch. I think our goal is much bigger than that.”