The Bruins pelted Carey Price with 51 shots. An overtime bid by Boston’s Carl Soderberg slid across the crease behind the goalie but didn’t go in.
The team with the NHL’s best regular-season record had plenty of chances.
So coach Claude Julien says the Bruins are feeling positive after the Montreal Canadiens’ 4-3, double-overtime victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night.
“Of course it is,” he said Friday. “There was no panic after the game. It was only Game 1 and it’s a long series.”
And Canadiens coach Michel Therrien didn’t sound overconfident going into Game 2 on Saturday.
“The Bruins,” he said, “were the best team in the league all season long and they had a good first round and they played a solid game (Thursday).”
But after having nine days off after Montreal’s sweep of Tampa Bay, Therrien thinks his team can improve. Price was outstanding, but the Canadiens know they can’t let 51 shots get through to him again.
“He stole that game for us,” forward Brian Gionta said.
The Bruins helped.
Sloppy play led to 13 takeaways by Montreal, while Boston had just three. The Bruins also allowed two goals on the three power plays after the Canadiens had just two in 13 opportunities in the four games against the Lightning.
The Bruins, after five days off, started slowly and trailed 2-0 after the second period on goals by P.K. Subban on a power play and Rene Bourque. Boston tied it in the first seven minutes of the third on goals by Reilly Smith and Torey Krug.
“We had some great chances there in the second half of the second. It just took us a while to get our game going,” Julien said. “I thought from midway through the second period on, that’s where we were at our best.”
Francis Bouillon gave Montreal the lead midway through the third period before Johnny Boychuk tied it with 1:58 left in regulation. The Bruins took 14 shots in the first overtime then lost on Subban’s power-play goal 4:17 into the second overtime.
“We need to do a better job boxing out, blocking shots, and disturbing their entries” on power plays, Boston center Patrice Bergeron said, “doing a better job on our forecheck. That’s all.”
But Bergeron, one of the NHL’s top faceoff players, lost the draw and Subban scored just seven seconds after a penalty to Boston’s Matt Bartkowski.
Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara didn’t have enough time to get in front of Subban’s blast from the blue line.
“It’s tough for him to come out and block that shot,” Subban said. “I think he did all he could to get in my lane, but by the time he already did, I had already let it go.”
So now the Bruins are in the same spot where they were after Game 1 of the opening round. They lost 1-0 to Detroit then won the next four games to advance.
Three years ago, they lost the first two games of the first round at home against Montreal then won it in seven games and went on to capture the Stanley Cup.
“I don’t think we can even think about winning the series,” Subban said. “When there is success you have to take it and get better.”
The Bruins had plenty of success putting shots on Price. Boychuk had six and Bartkowski, David Krejci and Smith had five each.
“Those games are going to happen. You just hope they don’t happen in the playoffs,” Smith said. “They have a good goaltender on the other side, and it’s something we really have to focus on, making life a little bit more difficult on him.”
After a close game in which they outplayed the Canadiens in several aspects, the Bruins expect to show resiliency, just as they did after falling behind 2-0 and 3-2 on Thursday.
“We didn’t get the first one,” Boston right wing Jarome Iginla said, “but, at the same time, we did a lot of things that we feel are a part of our game and were effective, and we stay with that.”
But the Canadiens won’t be satisfied with gaining a split in Boston.
“The Bruins played a really solid game,” Therrien said. “The thing I know and I believe is that our team is going to be better next game.”