For the last two games of the series, Patrice Bergeron tried to fight through a serious injury. After the 2-1 overtime loss in Game 7, the Bruins star center wasn’t ready to disclose what had reduced his game to a shade of its usual efficiency.
“It was a little better,’’ Bergeron said. “But not much better. I don’t want to use that as an excuse right now. It’s a tough one to swallow. I really don’t want to put it on an injury. I’m not the only one who goes through that stuff.’’
During the regular season, Bergeron was the team’s second-leading scorer. He won the most faceoffs (973) in the NHL. Bergeron’s two-way game was good enough to make him one of the three finalists for the Selke Trophy as one of the league’s best defensive forwards.
But a game-altering injury robbed the team’s most important forward of one of his shining traits: his ability to battle.
Bergeron had two shots in 19:53 of ice time. For the second straight game, Bergeron only took one faceoff. At 1:14 of overtime, after the Bruins iced the puck, Bergeron was forced to take a defensive-zone draw. He beat Brooks Laich on the faceoff.
The Bruins were able to overcome Bergeron’s injury in Game 6. But in Game 7 they missed his two-way presence and his strength on the draw. Rich Peverley (11 for 26) and David Krejci (5 for 15) lost more faceoffs than they won. Chris Kelly won seven of nine.
“You look at tonight, we really struggled, especially with our righthanded centermen,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “Kells did a great job. But on the right side with Krejci and Peverley, we didn’t do a very good job. That’s where a guy like Bergeron comes in handy. When you win draws, you start with the puck. We didn’t start with the puck as much as we would have liked to tonight. That certainly wears on you throughout the game.’’
Despite his injury, Bergeron had a chance to win the game in overtime. In the first minute, after a Dennis Seidenberg shot, Bergeron’s bid went wide left of Braden Holtby.
“It exploded,’’ Bergeron said. “It just rolled on my stick and the puck was bouncing. I just tried to go quick because there wasn’t a lot of time. The puck wouldn’t settle.’’
Bergeron suffered his injury in Game 5. He took two hits from Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin.
With 2:26 left in regulation, the Bruins received a gift. Jason Chimera was called for an offensive-zone holding penalty on Johnny Boychuk. Had the Bruins scored on the power play, they could have pulled ahead and nursed the lead for the win.
But the Bruins, who had gone 0 for 2 earlier in the game, couldn’t take advantage. They put only one puck on Holtby while Chimera was in the box.
“When you talk about tonight, that’s probably the most frustrating part of our game - that power play that could have ended the series and the game,’’ said Julien. “But when you look at the whole picture, I think it was more than that.’’
The Bruins went 2 for 23 on the power play in the series.
Seidenberg solid again
In the third period, with Bergeron in the box for hooking, the Capitals could have scored the go-ahead power-play goal.
After taking a cross-ice pass from Semin, Ovechkin wound up for one of his signature one-timers. But Ovechkin’s shot thudded into Seidenberg’s right leg. The defenseman, who had lost his stick, had hit the deck to block Ovechkin’s blast.
“All you do is try and keep yourself in a shooting lane and try to block that shot,’’ Seidenberg said. “That’s what happened. I got lucky.’’
It was one of Seidenberg’s five blocked shots. In the first period, Seidenberg probably saved a goal when he blocked a Troy Brouwer attempt.
In 25:20 of ice time, Seidenberg added three hits and three shots. Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara helped to limit Ovechkin to two goals in seven games.
“We probably needed more players like him,’’ Julien said of Seidenberg.
Shawn Thornton was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Jordan Caron replaced him on the fourth line, just like in Game 6.
Caron and fourth-line mates Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell couldn’t match the strength of Mike Knuble, Keith Aucoin, and Joel Ward. In 8:25 of ice time, Caron was the only fourth-liner to land a shot on Holtby. Throughout the game, the fourth line spent too much time in the defensive zone.
Caron was on the ice for Ward’s OT winner. Caron had just replaced Brian Rolston and was sprinting back to offer defensive support.
Mottau back in
Mike Mottau remained in the Game 7 lineup. Mottau made his series debut in Game 6 after being a healthy scratch for the first five games. Joe Corvo was held out for the second straight game. Mottau (11:08 of ice time) and partner Greg Zanon (11:49) were on the ice for Ward’s overtime goal . . . Tyler Seguin led all players with seven shots in 18:55 of action . . . Milan Lucic didn’t record a single shot in 19:50 . . . Adam McQuaid (eye/head) missed the entire first round . . . The NHL will announce the three finalists for the Norris Trophy on Thursday. Chara could be among the group. The award is presented to the defenseman who best excels in the all-around aspects of the game. Other candidates include Shea Weber, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Erik Karlsson.Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.