CHICAGO -- The Boston Bruins were close – really close – to winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Even after relinquishing a two-goal lead in the third period, the Bruins always seemed right in the game and even in control at times. Close, unfortunately for the Bruins, wasn't enough as they fell to the Blackhawks 4-3 in triple-overtime.
There were the near misses, or perhaps more accurately, near makes.
Jaromir Jagr had a redirection clank off the inside of the post near the end of the second overtime. More agonizingly, Kaspars Daugavins had a wide-open net in the third overtime, but as he attempted to bring the puck to a shooting position, he tripped over himself and fell to the ice.
Soon after, Andrew Shaw had the puck bounce off him and into the net to give Chicago the coveted Game 1 victory.
A three-overtime loss might crush teams, but Bruins head coach Claude Julien seemed mostly unfazed, admitting only that it isn't easy to lose in the fashion his team did.
The Bruins certainly played well enough to win. A few mistakes -- maybe none bigger than Torey Krug's failed clearing attempt that led to Chicago's second goal -- and a fluky bounce on the game-winner made enough of a difference.
“When you look at the game, it could have gone either way,” Julien said. “I thought we had some real great looks in overtime. With a little bit of luck, we could have ended it before they did.”
The good news for the Bruins is that if there are any improvements to be made, they're minor and goaltending obviously isn't a concern.
Tuukka Rask was excellent once again, making 59 stops in the triple-overtime marathon.
Where it gets a little less certain is the status of top-line winger Nathan Horton.
Horton left the second overtime with an apparent injury and never returned. Julien was unable to give an update on Horton's status after the game as the doctors had not finished their evaluation of the winger
The second-leading scorer for the Bruins this postseason is not an easy guy to replace and Boston is already without Gregory Campbell, who broke his leg in the Eastern Conference finals. Tyler Seguin played in Horton's spot alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic in the third overtime.
With or without Horton, the Bruins face a big Game 2 after falling into a 1-0 hole against an energized opponent.
While losing in such a fashion is a bitter pill, the Bruins have no choice but to bounce back. What may make the deficit a little easier to stomach, is that many of Boston's players have been in a similar position before, namely in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final against the Canucks.
“Last time we won the Cup, we lost the first two games to Vancouver,” Julien said. “It never stopped us from coming back. This [loss] certainly won't.”