There is no way around it, the 4-3 double overtime loss suffered by the Bruins on Thursday at TD Garden in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Montreal was brutal. Still, they don’t need to reach very far back in their memory banks to remember what it takes to bounce back from a frustrating Game 1 loss on their home ice.
On April 18, Boston fell 1-0 to Detroit in their 2014 playoff opener. After that, the B’s won four straight to eliminate the Red Wings in five games. That’s not to suggest things will be that simple against the Canadiens – who are clearly an extremely tough matchup for them and a better overall team than Detroit. The Bruins won’t have time to mull this one over, and that’s probably a good thing for them, as the turnaround for Game 2 is pretty fast (12:30 p.m., Saturday).
“It was a battle,” said Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who basically stood on his head with 48 saves. “It was exactly what we were expecting and we just gutted it out. It was a hard fought game that could have gone either way.”
The main positive to take away for Boston is that it put together an improbable rally in the third period when it was trailing, 2-0. Reilly Smith and Torey Krug scored goals before Montreal defenseman Francis Bouillon regained the lead for the Canadiens. The Bruins recovered again as Johnny Boychuk tied it with 1:58 left in regulation. The fact that Boston dominated in overtime (outshooting Montreal 14-6) was of little solace to them as P.K. Subban won it 4:17 into the second overtime with his second power-play goal of the contest (he opened the game with a power play strike in the first period).
The Bruins tempted fate as Daniel Paille took a tripping penalty near the end of the first period, then shortly after his teammates killed that off, Matt Bartkowski was whistled for holding. Seven seconds later, after a faceoff win by Daniel Briere and pass over to Subban from defense partner Andrei Markov, it was all over at 11:26 p.m..
“They were both penalties,” admitted Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “So there are no issues in my mind with that. That’s the way it is. And could there have been some others in the overtime? Maybe, but the ones that they called against us were definitely penalties.”
The power play was seen as a true strength for Boston coming into the series but that’s not how it played out in Game 1 (0-for-2). The B’s also need to focus more around the net since there were countless loose pucks and shots that went just wide that could have ended this game in their favor without the need for multiple overtimes.
“The parts that we did play well and we did play our game, we really have to focus on that and focus on bringing that for 60 minutes (on Saturday),” said Bartkowski, who also had the penalty preceding Subban’s first goal. Or as his fellow defenseman Johnny Boychuk noted, “We just have to put this one behind us, look over video and come prepared on Saturday.”
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate