After enjoying a three-game streak in which they scored six goals in each contest, someone pulled the plug on the Bruins' offensive surge Thursday night, and the result was a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Bruins outscored their opponents 18-6 in three wins against the Flyers, Islanders, and Panthers, but the team could not get much going against their rivals from the north, failing to earn at least a point for the first time since Jan. 14 against Toronto.
“There’s not much to really say; it was pretty clear how things went by watching the game,” said Milan Lucic. “We weren’t sharp in our decision-making and they were first on pucks, they won more battles than we did from the drop of the puck to the end; it’s unfortunate that we come out with that kind of effort against this team once again.
“It’s one of those ones you have to suck it up and call a spade a spade; it wasn’t good enough from, I guess, an emotional standpoint and from a determination standpoint and you just have to get better from games like this.”
The Bruins came out slow and played questionable defense for most of the game, allowing Montreal to seize all of the momentum, none of which the Bruins could manage to get back.
“Our heads weren’t into it, and they deserved the win,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We didn’t play anywhere near where we needed to play to have success in this league… From what I remember it was our worst game of the year, and you can’t have success when you play like that.”
The Bruins trailed for all but the first 2:16 of the game, the first time they fell behind in a game since Jan. 19 against the Blackhawks. The Bruins had been 5-0-1 in their last six games.
“There were three things for me [that went wrong], said coach Claude Julien. “We didn’t skate well tonight; we didn’t make good decisions; and we didn’t execute well. When you’ve got none of those three things you’re not going to win too many hockey games. So, that was absent in our game tonight and we certainly didn’t pick a good night to play that kind of game, but the results are from a lack of those three things.”
One question that was on everyone’s minds after the game was why Claude Julien had pulled Tuukka Rask halfway through the second period with the team down by just two goals.
“It [was] a lot of everything. That’s a decision that I make and I don’t feel I have to explain every time,” Julien said.
“I don’t know, I felt OK,” Rask said. “I play as long as they tell me to play, I just try to battle out there as hard as I can and I stay out there as long as I can, and today it lasted just over a period, and that’s too bad.”
“It didn’t [help] tonight,” said Lucic on whether the Bruins would get a spark from Rask being pulled. “Usually you get somewhat of a response; you know something happens [after a pull]. In no way was [it] Tuukka’s fault on any of those goals, it just wasn’t there from all of us.”
The Bruins have now not been able to come up with a win against the Canadiens in five straight games dating back to last season, a trend that has the team shaking their heads.
“Usually we have found a way to rise to the occasion against these guys, but for some reason [we haven’t] the last four times we’ve played them,” Lucic said. “Maybe we get too caught up in the rivalry, or maybe our emotions get the better of us where we’re stuck in the headlights like we were tonight, but we need to find a way to turn this around against these guys, and hopefully it can be sooner than later.”
“It’s disappointing; it’s a big game, a rivalry [game]; you want to come out and compete hard, and we just didn’t have it tonight,” said Chad Johnson. “That emotion that you need in these types of games, that energy and that focus just wasn’t what we had tonight.”
Even in defeat, captain Zdeno Chara believed that there could be some silver lining in the Bruins re-learning how to play from behind after relatively cruising through the last three games.
“For the future we are not always going to play with a lead,” he said. “It’s not always going to be easy that we score four, five, [or] six goals, so we got to be ready to fight back from being behind.”
The Bruins will have the chance to regain their offense and get back on track Saturday when they host the Edmonton Oilers. Despite the loss to Montreal, the Bruins maintained their four-point lead in the Atlantic Division after Tampa Bay lost to Ottawa.
“You hope it’s just a one-game thing and hopefully the answer will come on Saturday,” Julien said. “When you score six goals [in] three consecutive games and then you meet a team like Montreal [they’re] going to be pretty stingy and played us tight, you realize that those goals don’t come that easily. So, again, I’m just looking at seeing our team bounce back on Saturday and move on.”
“I think it’s about obviously shaking [this] one off, learning from what we haven’t done, and just going out there tomorrow, work on things, and be back at it on Saturday,” Bergeron said. “It’s adversity, and we’ve been through it before, and it’s about looking forward.”