BOSTON -- Just as the 17,565 in attendance Thursday at TD Garden began one of the loudest “Let’s go Bruins” chants of the season, the Anaheim Ducks scored at 3:09 of overtime to beat the Boston Bruins 3-2.
It was another crushing defeat for the Bruins, and despite earning one point, Boston dropped its sixth consecutive game. Fortunately for the Bruins, the New York Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-1, which means Boston and Ottawa both have 85 points. The Senators, however, have a game in hand on the Bruins.
This loss for Boston is another example of how its entire season can be described.
The Bruins had a 2-1 lead in the final minute of regulation, when the Ducks pulled goaltender Frederik Andersen for the extra attacker. With a faceoff in the Boston end, coach Claude Julien called a timeout. When play resumed, the Ducks’ Corey Perry crashed the net and redirected a shot past Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask with 38.5 seconds remaining in the period to tie the game 2-2.
The building went silent.
In overtime, the Bruins killed off a penalty, and the fans began their chant. It reached a deafening level. Seconds later, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf beat Rask with a sniper-like shot from the high slot to give Anaheim the victory.
Again, the fans, the Bruins and their coach were stunned with the turn of events.
Afterward, Julien was not pleased the tying goal was allowed. He felt the officials should have called goaltender interference after Perry appeared to make contact with Rask just before the score.
“It’s really disappointing that goal was allowed,” Julien said. “There’s no doubt there’s goalie interference there, and that’s why they talk about reviewing those kinds of goals and coaches challenges because you can’t allow those kinds of goals. This is a big point we lost tonight on a missed call. Those are the things that are hard to swallow right now."
Rask said he didn’t know who collided with him on the equalizer, but he did not get the response he was hoping for when he asked the referee about the play.
“I asked the ref, and he said there was nothing there, so that’s what we go by,” Rask said. “I haven’t seen [the replay] yet, but somebody took my legs out.”
The Bruins have only eight games remaining in the regular season, and assistant captain Chris Kelly admitted he and his teammates were watching the out-of-town scores on the video board and knew the Rangers were beating up on the Senators.
These two points were crucial for the Bruins -- and they couldn’t hold on.
“We don’t play Ottawa again, so we can’t look at what they’re doing,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to focus on playing these eight games because if we don’t come ready to play for our eight games, it doesn’t matter what happens with Ottawa. We’ll be in a tough spot, regardless.”
With the loss, the Bruins are 8-4 in overtime this season. Julien was pleased with how his team responded after Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Thursday, the Bruins were seconds from beating the top team in the Western Conference. Instead, the Ducks answered and now have 101 points.
“We played hard,” Julien. “[Anaheim] is a team that scores a lot. [I] thought our checking game was good tonight. We checked well, as far as not giving them much, and we made it the kind of game we need to make it from here on in. We can’t keep giving up four or five goals a game. We’ve got to keep the puck out of our net, and if we do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance, and tonight, in my mind, it should have been a win.”
But it wasn’t.
“Terrible feeling, obviously,” Rask said. “We played a great game. We lost, and it’s a tough one to swallow -- again.”
Maybe Ottawa’s loss will bring the Senators (17-3-2 in their past 22 games) back down to earth for the final stretch. If that’s the case, maybe the Bruins can take advantage and win some games to separate themselves for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers, who clinched the season’s first playoff spot with their win over the Senators, did Boston a favor. The Bruins host the Rangers on Saturday, and Boston needs a better outcome because Ottawa is playing the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs.
Thursday’s loss hurts. Boston’s inability to earn more than just one point could eventually become its downfall if this team does not earn a postseason berth. The Bruins were pleased with their effort, but it wasn’t enough.
“At the end of the day, it’s a loss, right?” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “Overall, it was a pretty good checking game, a solid team effort, but it’s still a loss.”