MONTREAL – Taken separately, each moment could be considered a bad play or an unfortunate bounce of the puck. But the chain of events that led to the Bruins not even registering a single shot during a 6-on-4 power play in the final minute of regulation was a fittingly exasperating denouement to a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
The Bruins had worked diligently to keep it a one-goal game headed into the final minutes of the third period, and Zdeno Chara certainly worked for the holding call on Lars Eller with 57 seconds remaining in the final period. The Big Slovakian defenseman tumbled to the ice after Eller grabbed the back of his sweater, giving Boston its first power play of the night.
But neither Chara nor David Krejci could settle pucks on a lively ice surface at the end of the period; Brad Marchand chose not to take a wide-open shot from the right circle while giving the puck up to Jaromir Jagr below the net, and Jagr, the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer, admitted he lost track of how much time was left as he stickhandled near the right-wing boards while the clock ticked off the game's final seconds.
That amounted to zero shots on net despite 57 seconds with a 6-on-4 advantage in the third period after Tuukka Rask was pulled from the game.
“The most disappointing part for me was that we didn’t get a shot on net [during the power play],” said coach Claude Julien. “I just thought we should have had some shots on net. Bad ice or not, you need to get some shots through if you want to win a hockey game.”
Any one of those errors could derail a normal power play.
But this one wound up being one of the most ghastly special-teams displays of the season, even for a team that’s routinely flirted with futility on the PP. It also had the Bruins players searching for reasons, excuses and alibis after the frustrating game had concluded.
“Nothing happened. Nothing . . . [Expletive ice]. That’s all I’ve got to say,” replied Krejci when asked about failing to get a shot off during the power play. “Somebody made a nice play getting it to Zee, and he one-touched it to me and it was bouncing. Zee didn’t get a good tip on it to get it to me. Then I passed it to Zee from the corner and the puck just exploded.
“That’s how it goes for us. It was our first power play of the game and it comes at the end of the game.”
Jagr was hanging his head noticeably on the ice as time expired, and admitted afterwards that he’d lost track of how much time was left on the clock when he appeared to give up on the play with seconds remaining. But the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer also wasn’t going to use the ice as a readily available excuse when it seemed that Bruins players passed up at least two very good shooting chances in that final minute.
“We were looking for the perfect shot," he said. "Maybe we should take some shots and we just didn’t do it. But it’s okay. We should just learn from it.
“It’s sad that we lost, but I’m happy with the way we played in the second and the third period. I’ve learned not to complain. [The ice] is the same for everybody. We were just lucky to get that power play at the end.”
The Bruins would have been even luckier had they actually squeezed off a few shots while trying to push the game into overtime, but that was apparently asking too much given all that was going on around them in the final minute.