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Stanley Cup Final: Bruins’ 3-OT Game 1 loss will have lasting impact

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Bruins lose Game 1 to Blackhawks 4-3 in triple overtime

Boston’s Tuukka Rask was impressive with 59 saves in a heartbreaking 4-3 triple-OT loss. (Getty Images)

By Sarah Kwak

CHICAGO — In the wee hours of Thursday morning, in the bowels of the United Center visitors’ dressing room, the Boston Bruins tried their best. They said all the right things, sat confidently, and made sure not to look too worn, too weary. They reminded the microphones in their faces of the times they had fought back from tough losses, and that here, they were close; the game could’ve gone either way. As they moved through the halls after the game, they did so with heads held high. Yes, they may have just lost, 4-3, in a triple overtime thriller, but they refused to be defeated by it.

But here’s the reality: The Bruins can try to convince themselves and the world that this wasn’t a devastating, irreparable loss, but that’s exactly what Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was. And here’s why:

GAME 1: Recap | Boxscore | Highlights | Photos | Complete schedule

• The emotional toll of a game like this will not soon be forgotten, and each and every Bruin will feel exactly that in his muscles on Thursday morning. To the Blackhawks, the fatigue and burn will be remnants of a hard-fought victory; to the Bruins, it will be a physical reminder of their failure. At a certain point — and I think it’s around the midpoint of the second overtime — a game becomes worse to lose than it is better to win. The joy of victory becomes less intense than the bitterness of defeat, and Game 1 on Wednesday night had long passed that point.

MUIR: Devastating Cup final loss all too familiar for Bruins fans

• The Bruins may have lost Nathan Horton, who left the game in the third period with an apparent upper-body injury and did not return. Coach Claude Julien had no update on Horton’s status, and Horton was spotted walking the halls after the game moving freely and unencumbered. But losing the winger will mess with the Bruins’ most effective scoring line. Without him late in the game, linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic were less effective than they had been when Horton rounded out the trio. Lucic, for instance, had no shots in overtime despite scoring Boston’s first two goals. Horton’s situation will force Julien to switch up his lines, perhaps force him to increase Tyler Seguin’s minutes. That could be a good thing for the Bruins if Seguin plays as he did late in Game 1, but consistency hasn’t been a strong suit for the youngster. It’s still a little early to understand what the impact of Horton’s injury or non-injury will be, but if he couldn’t return during the 50-plus minutes they played after he left, then chances are it’s serious enough to keep him out of a game or two.

• What’s got to be most disconcerting for the Bruins, however, was how much the Blackhawks dominated for long stretches of the game. In the end, Chicago fired 132 shots, 63 of which made it to Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. The Bruins took 85.

CAZENEUVE: Momentum, emotion of Chicago’s win makes it seem more significant

• Twice, Boston held two-goal leads that they squandered. They let Chicago back into the game in the third period when Johnny Oduya tied the score with less than eight minutes left, his shot from the point bouncing off Andrew Ference’s skate and past Rask. And then, in overtime, the Bruins were given two power play chances — off of bench minors — and they failed to convert. Boston’s power play has never been a fearsome one, of course, but so late in the game, that has to be an opportunity utilized rather than wasted.

• Depth is key, as they all say, but Game 1 began to show some cracks in Boston’s depth. Diminutive Torey Krug, the defensive wunderkind, had his pumpkin moment in the third period, giving the puck away at the blue line, a mistake that led to the goal that reignited the United Center crowd. Julien benched him for the rest of regulation, brought him back three minutes into overtime, and managed his ice time like a veteran coach who is weary of rookie mistakes.

Said Bruins winger Shawn Thornton: “That’s part of hockey. We have to go through it, the good with the bad. Hey, we could be home.”

A silver lining, perhaps, but it’s not as rich as the Bruins might like to believe.

  • Published On Jun 13, 2013
  • 9 comments
    Pedrosky
    Pedrosky

    good points, but all the more compelling when the B's overcome adversity and win in seven games.

    KdNicewanger
    KdNicewanger

    Is this a hockey column, or armchair psychology? Chicago got a good bounce. If I were the Bruins I'd be more concerned about getting dominated in regulation, especially with their ineffective breakouts. They have nothing to be "devastated" about. Maybe you'd feel that way, but that's no reason to project it on them. The devastation, if it comes, will come after their fourth loss, not their first. You're trying to manufacture a narrative that just isn't there.

    Joe R2
    Joe R2

    As a Hawks fan, I'd love to agree with this article but I can't.  The Bruins have showed how resilient they are so I doubt this one game will be too much for them to recover from.  We'll see how it turns out...

    GO HAWKS

    AldoGandia
    AldoGandia

    Reporters, like many fans, overreact. I'm a Hawks fan, but to say that this was  "irreparable loss," for the Bruins is nonsense. The Bruins were down three goals in the 3rd period of a Game Seven. They dominated the Penguins. They had numerous chances to win in OT last night. If they panic after losing game one - or even, game two - then I will be shocked. 

    This reporter assumes that Horton will miss a game or two as part of her rationale to sound an alarm. This even though he was spotted after the game not wearing a cast or shoulder sling. Come on!

    I see two evenly matched teams that have proven they can overcome adversity.

    DeanHewitt
    DeanHewitt

    The Hawks scored four goals and made 132 shots, this is Hawks Hockey.  Four goals are two more then the Pens made in 4 games....   The Hawks wear down goalies, ask Quick.

    kcinatx
    kcinatx

    A little too early for the funeral, I think. 

    Lets see; essentially a tie game on a strong and classy opponent's home ice? Hardly something to collapse over.

    SRT4nier
    SRT4nier

    Grueling one goal loss, Nathan Horton injured, possibility to go down 0-2, versus an over powering offense... Sounds like the 2011 Finals... how did that turn out again? Dope. 

    spa000000
    spa000000

    Yes and No:  Yes, it was a great victory for the Hawks and a very emotional loss for the B's.  No, because the Hawks [barely] held serve on home ice.  Game 2 is the big one for the B's.  

    splabman
    splabman

    @SRT4nier 2011 was the Canucks. Two facts: 1) These are not the Canucks. (Don't expect any Bruins to be bitten.)    2) If the Hawks were to lose, the fans would not burn down downtown Chicago. Big "if" after the heart-wrenching loss. Greater depth and speed may be the key for the Hawks in this series.