Despite loss, Bruins slide into first place
In a game where Patrice Bergeron got fooled on a line change, the Carolina Hurricanes took advantage in overtime off the stick of Phillip Di Giuseppe 1:30 into the extra frame to lift the Canes to a 3-2 victory.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Boston Bruins. With the one point, they moved into first place in the Atlantic Division surpassing the Tampa Bay Lightning by a point. The Bolts do have two games in hand on the Black and Gold.
It wasn’t the start Boston was looking for after going 3-0-1 through a very tough stretch against stiff competition. They trailed early on after Elias Lindholm scored on the power play. It was his ninth of the season.
Loui Eriksson then tied it early on in the second period on the man advantage off a beautiful feed from Bergeron, who notched his 33rd assist of the season. But, again the Canes answered on Nathan Gerbe’s third goal of the year.
The B’s were playing catch up hockey all night long, and it came back to haunt them. Even though David Pastrnak received a perfectly placed pass up the boards to tie the game with a highlight reel goal, it wasn’t enough.
Head coach Claude Julien isn’t making a big deal of being in first place because he knows his team needed to be better Thursday night.
“It’s nice to be there,” Julien said during his postgame press conference. “I think right now we’re looking at our game and we’re in that dressing room right now, we’re not happy. We lost a game tonight and even if it means that point got us into first, we’re certainly not satisfied with that. I think we could have been better tonight. Like I said, sometimes you play a lot of games and unfortunately not every night you’re at your best.”
Julien pointed to the B’s skating game being why his team struggled early on stressing it could be the effects of coming off a back-to-back or playing four straight games in overtime.
Bergeron, who took total responsibility of his bad read on the line change on the game-winning goal, emphasized the team’s solemn mood in the locker room afterwards.
“No I mean, it’s one of those games that you know they got the better of us most of the night and you know we had some more shots than they did, but it wasn’t quality shots,” Bergeron said. “And we didn’t get the result, so obviously, we’re not as happy as we’d like to be.”
Torey Krug, who tallied the secondary assist on Eriksson’s power-play tally, echoed Bergeron’s sentiments of the bittersweet feeling of losing, but advancing into first place after Thursday’s loss.
“Yeah, it’s not what we want,” Krug said with a stone-cold face. “We’re trying to take steps forward as a group and mature together and I think we had a chance to take another step forward tonight and unfortunately, we didn’t. You know bright side of things you get a point and you move up, but we’ve got to continue this thing. Make sure we’re not just in our comfort zone. Make sure we take advantage of these opportunities.”
Krejci admitted it will give the team a boost of confidence being in first place, but not until Friday.
“I guess maybe tomorrow,” said Krejci, who assisted on Pastrnak’s 10th of the season. “But you know, as for right now, it kind of stings to be on the losing side. I will say after the tough start we had this year and to find ourselves in first place that’s pretty impressive. But like I said, we’ll appreciate that more tomorrow.”
Tuukka Rask wasn’t aware the B’s moved into first place after the loss, but admits his team shouldn’t be staring at the standings.
“Oh did we? Tampa didn’t play tonight? Yeah, well you know we don’t want to get caught at staring at the standings because that won’t do any good for us,” Rask said after making 25 saves in the losing effort. “We just have to focus on our game and improve like we have all season.”
Many thought this could’ve been a trap game for the B’s coming off their recent string of success and playing a team of lesser talent and it was. Boston got off to a sluggish start, played catch-up hockey all night eventually losing in overtime, but the silver lining is they are in first place for the first time all season long.