The two-game slate was daunting, with the Blackhawks and Capitals — the two top teams in the NHL — coming to TD Garden, where the Bruins had been iffy at best this season. But Boston got the 2 points on Thursday against Chicago and, after taking Washington to overtime Saturday, guaranteed themselves 1 more.
How is 3 points out of 4? The Bruins would take it.
Though after the game, after Matt Niskanen’s goal at 2:36 of the overtime denied the Bruins that extra point, there were lingering disappointments about Saturday night’s performance. The Bruins had gotten 34 shots on Philipp Grubauer, including 20 in the second period. They had five fruitless power plays, including a five-on-three for 1:49. They had a goal called back on an offside.
So, yes, they got 3 out of 4 points. But, no, they weren’t exactly satisfied.
“We had chances, power plays, and a couple of posts there,” goalie Tuukka Rask said. “It was just one of those nights that you can’t score the winning goals. But it was a good game, a hard-fought game. One point, we’ll take it, but too bad we didn’t win.”
That could be traced back to the second period, a period in which the Bruins had plenty of chances — even put the puck past Grubauer on one of them — but finished with less than they started with.
As Torey Krug put it, “For whatever reason, we’re not able to put pucks behind Washington goaltenders.”
Krug, who hasn’t scored a goal since Dec. 5, appeared to finish on a rebound at 3:17 of the period. But the Capitals challenged the goal and, after a lengthy review, it was determined that Loui Eriksson had gone offside. The goal was waved off, and Krug could only throw up his hand in frustration on the bench. It would, after all, have been his first goal in 40 games.
But the other loss that the Bruins had in the period could be more long lasting. Kevan Miller left the game holding his right shoulder at 5:36 after being hit into the boards by Alex Ovechkin, which earned the Capitals star a five-minute major.
And it was on that major that the Bruins got their best chances of the evening.
After Tom Wilson was called for interference at 8:47, the Bruins had that lengthy five-on-three.
“You need to get a little bit lucky in those situations when they have that much time and they are talented, too,” Niskanen said. “They have one of the better power plays in the league and a heck of a job by Gruby.”
The Bruins managed seven shots on net during the two-man advantage.
“Disappointing,” Krug said. “Part of the power play is scoring goals and making sure that we complete those chances, and we hit a couple posts tonight. Five-on-three for almost two minutes, it’s really disappointing. I think we score there, it changes the game. We take a lot of pride in the power play and could have won us a game tonight, but it didn’t.”
At 13:08 of the second, the Capitals tied the score, with Karl Alzner getting behind Rask off a pass from Nicklas Backstrom.
The Bruins had gotten on the board first, at 7:11 of the first, on the 26th of the year by Patrice Bergeron. And while Miller did not get an assist on the play, it was his glove work — keeping a puck in the offensive zone — that allowed it to happen.
Ultimately, though, the Bruins fell in overtime on a shot that Rask called “weird.”
“[Niskanen] had so much time I thought he was going to maybe look around, go around or something and I really wasn’t prepared for that shot, I guess,” he said. “It was kind of a weird, almost a muffin shot, slap shot, and it found a hole and went through me.
“Every time the puck goes through you, it’s a bad goal and that’s what happened. But, you know, it’s hockey.”
Still, the Bruins finished with more points than they were expected to get out of the last two games. But that doesn’t mean their difficult stretch is over. After a day off Sunday, the Bruins head to Florida for a tough back-to-back against the two teams ahead of them in the Atlantic.
“We’re one shot away from beating the top two teams in the NHL, so for us it’s just realizing when we stick to the system and keep doing those things well, we’ll have a chance to win any game,” Krug said. “We’ve done a good job playing these two teams and we’ve just got to move on.
“We have other big tests coming up and every team brings something different to the table, and we’ll look forward to the next challenge.”