WINNIPEG It was bound to happen eventually, and it seemed inevitable it would be in Winnipeg on the second night of road back-to-backs with Tyler Seguin scratched after missing an Xs and Os with Cheerios session with his teammates Tuesday morning.
So it was for a Bruins team that had won 14 out of 15 games and hadnt lost a regulation game since before Halloween.
The Bruins battled through some tired legs and a couple of defensive gaffes courtesy of Joe Corvo, but couldnt find ways to finish off scoring chances in a 2-1 loss to the Jets at the MTS Centre.
The emotion of Mondays statement victory over Sidney Crosby and the Penguins didnt leave much in the Bs gas tank, but the players werent making any excuses after landing in Manitoba during the early morning hours on Tuesday.
You always want to win, and its a little extra frustrating when you felt like you had some pretty good chances, said Andrew Ference. A loss is a loss. Nobody likes it in here and thats obviously what makes us successful.
We werent flying on top of a rainbow when we were winning all those games, so were not going to beat ourselves up over a loss now. We just need to move on.
Winnipegs building proved to be a fearsome ice advantage for the Jets, and the noise after the Jets game-winning goal in the third period could rival any other NHL barn across Canada. So the Bruins will have to prepare for the hostile atmosphere in future meetings with the Jets, and they shouldnt have the same kind of play-finishing issues when Seguin jumps back into the lineup Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.
Boston probably could have actually used Seguins elite finishing abilities among those 39 shots that were snuffed out by Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, or the 0-for-3 performance on the power play that couldnt quite break through.
But they soldiered on without him, and had their chances to pull out points while operating at less than their best. In fact it seemed things had swung in their direction when Shawn Thornton tipped home a Daniel Paille offering in the third period, and tied the game up at 1-1 apiece.
After all the Bruins have outscored opponents by a 40-18 margin in third periods this season and have used the final 20 minutes to bully teams with their strength in both numbers and physical might.
But it wasnt going to happen this time around. Instead old friend Mark Stuart found himself in the middle of a winning sequence when he earned a roughing call from David Krejci in the third period. Stuart quickly turned his back toward a charging Krejci while holding the puck in the corner, and went down hard after his face smacked violently into the glass above the boards.
Bryan Little weaved through a stunned Bs penalty kill unit and managed to squeeze a shot through Tuukka Rasks hockey pants for game-winning goal on a rush off his face-off win, and that was it for the Black and Gold. No stunning heroics and no last-minute goal to push things into overtime for the charity point.
Instead the Bruins felt the sting of an empty loss for the first time in 38 days, and no winning streak can soften the blow for a crew of hockey players that have become accustomed to winning.
It was a loss, but now we need to turn the page and start another streak, said Johnny Boychuk, who endured his share of pain when he took a shot off the knee. We did some positive things. We knew we werent going to win for the rest of the season and we had to lose eventually. But it always sucks to lose.
Whats most impressive about the Bruins is their ability to hang in games even when theyre not close to their best. There hasnt been a single opponent thats outclassed the Bs this season, and six of Bostons nine losses have been one-goal defeats that saw them fall just short.
The loss to Winnipeg doesnt take any luster away from Bostons 15-game run that pushed them all the way to the No. 2 spot behind the Penguins in the Eastern Conference standings. But it does act as a bookend to one lengthy, impressive run by the Black and Gold, and offer a challenge to start another one against the Panthers and Blue Jackets prior to some off-time next week.
The best thing the Bruins can do: bottle up their feelings of frustration and measured anguish after a rare loss to Winnipeg and take it out on their next few opponents with the same precision theyve showcased since the beginning of November.
Now it becomes about proving the Bruins epic 15-game run was the rule rather than the exception.