Eventually, whiffing on golden opportunities can come back to haunt you. In Game 1 of the Atlantic Division Finals Thursday night, the Boston Bruins proved that sentiment true.
Sure, the B’s found a way to beat Carey Price, and after trailing 2-0 and 3-2 in the third period, forced overtime with Johnny Boychuk’s blast with 1:58 left in regulation. They carried that momentum into the extra session where they fired 14 shots at Price, but the Habs netminder was once again up to the task with highlight reel saves on Brad Marchand and David Krejci to keep things tied at 3-3.
When push came to shove, the Habs made the most of their chances. Their biggest opportunity came in the second overtime after Matt Bartkowski (one of a few Bruins who had a rough night) was called for holding at 4:10. Seven seconds later, notorious Boston villain PK Subban struck again with his second power play goal and gave Les Habitants a 1-0 series lead.
“Chances are hard to come by in the playoffs, and it’s important that you bear down,” said Torey Krug, who tied the game at 2-2 6:30 into the third period. “You know it’s players of all positions up front and the back end we had some chances as well. You just have to bury them next time.”
When a team fires 51 shots in over 84 minutes of hockey, they usually have a good chance at coming up on the right end of the scoreboard. That was not the case thanks to Price’s stellar goaltending, but the Black and Gold also had some chances that missed wide (like Jarome Iginla’s in the second period), or hit the post (like Dougie Hamilton and Loui Eriksson) or just missing a chance on the rebound (like Patrice Bergeron did after Brendan Gallagher knocked the puck away on a back-check in the first overtime).
“You think you have an opportunity to win a game like that, and all of the sudden it’s gone,” Krug added. “You think the result would be different, but that’s how it goes sometimes. You run into a hot goalie and we have to capitalize.”
Thursday’s contest was a small sample of things to come. The intensity of the rivalry will ramp up with each game. The crowds at TD Garden and the Bell Centre will be more vocal. When it’s all done, the next chapter of this illustrious rivalry will be written.
As tough as the result was, the Bruins have some positives to build on. And as long as they continue to create chances, the puck luck should come along with it.
That puck luck was just not on their side Thursday night. But maybe it will come back to the Black and Gold on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s going to be like that the whole series. I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Boychuk said. “We just have to be ready for Saturday and come to play hard.”
Price and the rest of et Bleu Blanc Rouge have the same expectations. After all, it what makes this rivalry one of the greatest in professional sports.
“I don’t doubt it,” Price said about if Game 1 being an indicator for the rest of the second round series. “This whole rivalry thing has been going on for many years before I was born and it will probably keep going for a long time after I’m gone.”