Bruins lose Game 6 – but it was a heck of a run
Monday night, the Boston Bruins ended their season with a 3-2 loss in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks. In 17 seconds, the Bruins went from forcing a Game 7 to seeing the Blackhawks hoist the Cup on the TD Garden ice. The loss capped an end to a thrilling lockout-shortened season – let’s take a look back.
The B’s opened the season at home against the rival New York Rangers and earned a 3-1 victory on Jan. 18. Boston went 5-1-1 in the month of January with their only regulation loss coming at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres, in a 7-4 loss on January 31st.
Boston continued their strong play into February, posting an 8-1-1 record for the month. Their only regulation loss came against the Sabres in a 4-2 loss up in Buffalo. The Rangers got a bit of revenge for their opening night loss by winning a thrilling 4-3 shootout on February 12.
The Bruins leveled off in March, which saw them compete in 17 games in 31 days. They posted a 9-6-2 record and their most exciting game of the month was against the hated Montreal Canadiens on March 27th. After Montreal took a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Bruins put 4 on the board and went into the second intermission with a 4-2 lead. The Canadiens would net three goals in the third period to Boston’s one and the game went to overtime. Nobody scored in OT so after five rounds Brendan Gallagher ended the contest with his lone shootout goal in the sixth.
Boston ended its season with a 6-6-2 record in a very busy April. Their last game of the year, a 4-2 loss against the Ottawa Senators, was a make-up game from February when Boston was blanketed with snow from superstorm Nemo. The team also had games delayed because of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent shutdown of the city while police searched for the men responsible. The Bruins didn’t end the season strong but they saved their most dramatic games for the playoffs.
The team opened the postseason at home against Original Six rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was Toronto’s first playoff appearance in seven years and expectations were high for the young team. Boston and Toronto traded wins in the first two games of the series. The Bruins won the next two and took a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Leafs fought back and won the next two, forcing a game seven in the opening round of the playoffs. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals will be remembered as one of the greatest playoff games in NHL history. Toronto held an authoritative 4-1 lead well into the third period. Nathan Horton cut into the lead with 10:42 remaining, to make it a 4-2 affair. With the season on the line, the Bs pulled Tuukka Rask in favor of an extra attacker and the move paid off. Milan Lucic netted a goal with 1:22 left in regulation. Rask hit the bench again and Patrice Bergeron tied the game with just 51 seconds left on the clock. Bergeron continued his heroics as he fired a wrist shot past Leafs goalie James Reimer for the game-winner.
Boston played their regional rivals, the New York Rangers, in the next round. They took the first three games before dropping game 4 in overtime. The Bs rebounded from the loss and wrapped up the series with a win in game 5. What made this 4-1 series victory impressive was that the Bruins beat reigning Vezina Trophy (NHL’s top goaltender) winner Henrik Lundqvist.
The Bruins moved on to face the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Pittsburgh was the league’s leading offensive team throughout the regular season and the playoffs but never could find their rhythm against the more physical Bruins. Pittsburgh was also in the midst of a goaltender controversy. They had switched out starting net minder Marc-Andre Fleury in the previous round against the Ottawa Senators in favor of Tomas Vokoun. After losing game 1, 3-0, and after giving up three goals in the first period of game 2, Vokoun was sent to the bench and Fleury was back on. Fleury didn’t fare too well, giving up a goal on the first shot he faced and two more en route to a 6-1 Bruins victory. Pittsburgh went back to Vokoun for games 3 and 4 but ended up losing both games, getting swept out of the playoffs.
Boston would meet another original six foe, the Chicago Blackhawks, in the Stanley Cup Finals. Game 1 set the tone as the teams played into the wee hours of the morning when Andrew Shaw of Chicago scored the game-winner in the third overtime period. The Bruins rebounded by stealing game 2 in Chicago with a 2-1 victory. They returned to the TD Garden where they shutout Chicago for a 2-0 win and seemed to take control of the series. The Blackhawks came back and won an overtime barnburner, 6-5, in game 4 to even the series at two games apiece. Chicago returned home and took game 5 by a score of 3-1. They came to Boston on Monday night for game 6 and won by scoring two quick third-period goals to seal the second Stanley Cup in four years.
The Bruins had a very successful season despite it being so compact due to the lockout. The ultimate factor to their Stanley Cup loss was fatigue and injuries. With a full offseason, regular conditioning and hopefully not a lot of roster turnover, the Bruins are primed to make another run at the greatest trophy in all of sports next season.