CHICAGO – In the end, the Bruins will look back on their triple-overtime Game 1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks as the one that got away.
It’s a defeat that might be quickly forgotten if the B’s rebound strongly in Saturday night’s Game 2. But blowing a pair of two-goal leads en route to a 4-3 loss wasn’t the way Boston wanted to get things started in the Stanley Cup Finals.
“It is what it is. We’ve got to turn the page and we’ll see you on Saturday,” said Milan Lucic. “It usually is [a bad bounce that leads to the winning goal in overtime games], that’s just the way it goes sometimes. When we get the lead, we’ve just got to do things better.”
Many times the Bruins were the beneficiaries of good bounces in the last couple rounds of the playoffs, but that good fortune turned into bad puck luck this time around. The game-tying goal in the third period was a Johnny Oduya blast that bounced off Andrew Ference’s skate directly in front of the net, and the game-winning Andrew Shaw score in triple overtime bounced off two Blackhawks bodies before beating goalie Tuukka Rask.
But the stage was set in the second and third periods, when Boston was outshot by a 31-14 margin and the Blackhawks made their charge at the Bruins, who had jumped out to leads of 2-0 and 3-1. And the second Chicago goal was the result of an unforgivable turnover in the defensive end by Torey Krug, whose cross-ice pass to open space was intercepted and led to a Dave Bolland score that cut the B's lead to 3-2.
“We had the game, and we were up 3-1 in the third," said Rask, who made a career-high 59 saves. "Then a terrible turnover on the second goal, and a tough bounce leads to the tying goal. Then we just gave it away. We’ve got to be better than that.”
But it was more than just mistakes, and terrible turnovers,
The Bruins fired off 29 shots in the three overtime sessions, and had umpteen chances to pull out their fifth overtime victory of the playoffs:
-- Tyler Seguin missed on a bevy of o.t. chances generated by his 10 shot attempts.
-- Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford was down, out and beaten when Kaspars Daugavins couldn’t squeeze off a backhanded shot after faking the goalie out of position in the third overtime.
-- David Krejci split Chicago defenders on a drive to the net, but Crawford was able to gobble that scoring chance up with a flashy glove save.
-- Zdeno Chara rattled the inside post during a power play in the final seconds of double overtime.
Those numerous scoring opportunities provide some comfort to the Bruins, who feel a 1-0 lead in the series isn’t something that can’t eventually be overcome. It might be true that the team that wins Game 1 in the Cup Finals goes on to win the series more than 70 percent of the time, but the Bruins proved to be one of the exceptions to that rule after losing the first two games to Vancouver in 2011.
“[Losing the first two to the Canucks] never stopped us from coming back,” said coach Claude Julien. “This certainly won't. When you look at the game, it could have gone either way. I thought we had some real great looks in overtime. With a little bit of luck, we could have ended it before they did.
"But that's the name of the game. They got a good break on their tying goal going off one of our skates. That's the way the game goes. Some nights you get the break going your way, some nights you don't.”
And some nights -- like Wednesday -- you don't take advantage of the chances you have.