Despite the result, the vibes were still positive in the Bruins locker room.
On a day that included another emotional pregame tribute to law enforcement and first responders, another emotional rendition from Rene Rancourt and the 17,565 at TD Garden, and even Red Sox slugger David Ortiz dropping an “F bomb” during their pregame festivities at Fenway Park – all as part of the continuing healing process in Boston – the Black and Gold came out with lots of energy and fed off the 150th consecutive sellout on Causeway Street.
Through the first 20 minutes, the Bruins out muscled, out worked and out husled the Pittsburgh Penguins in a playoff-like atmosphere. They had the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to a highlight reel power play goal by Brad Marchand at 10:19 of the first.
Unfortunately for the B’s, they could not capitalize on the opportunity and the Pittsburgh Penguins took advantage behind two power play goals by Jarome Iginla – bringing painful memories from this year’s trade deadline season – and Kris Letang in a 3-2 victory.
The loss came just three days after a loss to the Buffalo Sabres in another emotional atmosphere just 48 hours after the Boston Marathon bombings. But the echo in the locker room, like Wednesday night, was still uplifting.
The Bruins are 0-3-1 in their last four, and the chances are there, but the execution isn’t. In that span, they’ve outshot 144-130, but only found the back of the net seven times.
There’s also the penalty kill struggles, which continued today as they Black and Gold gave up two power play goals for the third straight game. That is far from ideal for the league’s top shorthanded unit, despite having to kill six penalties thanks in part to questionable officiating, to struggle this late in the season.
Goaltending wise, the performances are ok, but the B’s aren’t getting timely saves from either Tuukka Rask or Anton Khudobin when they needed it the most.
All these concerns, however, are easily fixable according to Claude Julien.
“I thought at the end of the day, we played a pretty good game,” said the Bruins bench boss, who saw his team outshoot the Penguins, 40-24. “But at the end of the day, you look at the chances and you didn’t score enough. This is where we have to get better, we need to score better at one end and get some timely saves.”
Saturday was another example of the Bruins failing to make a statement in an important game. The Penguins, who clinched first place in the Eastern Conference, swept the Bruins in their season series. The Montreal Canadiens snatched three victories over their rivals and have a two-point lead in the Northeast Division standings.
There’s still time to make up some ground for the Black and Gold, but they’ll need to execute. Perhaps that will come in 24 hours when they host the lowly Florida Panthers.
“When we play a game like we did tonight and we only get one goal, and one with a couple of seconds left, it’s definitely frustrating,” said Marchand. “We deserved a little better, but we got to put a little onus on ourselves and make sure we step [up] in the next game.”
“We have to find a way to execute,” added forward Tyler Seguin, who scored the Bruins’ second goal with 2.8 seconds left in regulation. “The emotion was there and everyone had the right ideas out there, but we just have to find a way to win.”
Here’s video featuring Seguin and Marchand after today’s loss