MONTREAL – It was pretty clear early in Game 6 at the Bell Centre that the Bruins weren’t going to reach the desperation level necessary to beat a Montreal Canadiens team battling for its very playoff life.
A good deal of it was definitely their own doing. The Bruins young defensemen once again seemed rattled early in the proceedings playing at the loud, intimidating Bell Centre. The Bruins allowed the Canadiens’ speed game to become a factor in losing a 4-0 decision to the Habs that forces a Game 7 scenario Wednesday night in Boston.
Desperation, urgency and “no tomorrow” apparently weren’t buzz words for the Bruins. Instead Boston handed Carey Price his first career playoff shutout -- all four have come against the Bruins -- and lamented about a lost opportunity to score on their best chances.
“It took the energy out of us when they got the goal on us in the first few minutes,” said Tuukka Rask, who kept the Bruins afloat with 10 big time saves in the first period. “We definitely didn’t manage the puck as well as we wanted to in the beginning. I gave them that [first] goal, but I thought in the second we had pretty good chances, but we just never bore down.
“Then we gave them another gift, and it took all of the life away from us." continued Rask, “Everybody needs to step up, and not just the veteran guys. But obviously we’ve been in that situation before, and we need to approach it like any other game while being extremely desperate, and playing our brand of hockey.”
The Bruins put on a game effort into the second period when it was still a 1-0 game, but the 1-2 combination of Milan Lucic missing an empty net followed by a Max Pacioretty goal on a partial breakaway officially ended it for Boston. The B’s were only two goals down at that point with almost 25 minutes to play in the game, but it might as well have been a 10-goal deficit.
On some nights one would see a major effort from the Bruins to claw back into a game like Monday night's at the Bell Centre, but instead the Bruins will bind their wounds and take their chances in the ninth Game 7 scenario under Claude Julien. The Bruins hold a 4-4 record in their previous Game 7s with Julien as coach.
“We were all around the net, and then they scored the [Pacioretty goal] and it definitely took all of the momentum right out of us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We know they’re a tough team with a lot of character. So are we. It’s all about Game 7 now. It’s about finishing the job, and we need to be a lot better.”
It’s tough to manufacture the kind of energy and desperation required in an elimination situation, and the Bruins just didn’t have it. Pacioretty had been completely manhandled by Zdeno Chara throughout the series, and hadn’t scored a goal in the series prior to his Game 6 breakaway that finally made the prolific Montreal winger a part of the series.
“We wanted to win the game, we wanted to have a good start and we wanted to score the first goal . . . that didn’t happen,” said David Krejci. “At the end of the day they won, and there’s nothing they can do about it now. If [the early 2-on-1 with Lucic] goes in the net then it’s a different game, but it is what it is.
“We had some good looks out there that didn’t go in for us, but we’re going to stay positive in here, we’re going to believe in ourselves and we have a good job to do in two days. We’re going to have to win.”
The stupefying shutout loss leaves the Bruins with an 0-5 record under Julien in road Game 6 scenarios when they have a chance to close out another team, but the Bruins have a 3-1 record in the ensuing Game 7s prior to this year. There should be a healthy and palpable whiff of desperation to their game on Wednesday night as their season is in jeopardy for the first time this season.