Commentary

For Bruins, no sulking allowed

Boston loses and learns, remains confident in level of play

Updated: March 6, 2011, 3:10 PM ET
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins had their longest win streak since the 2008-09 season snapped with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night, and while the Bruins were not happy to see the streak end -- nor with the way they played -- they know it's not the end of the world.

If there is something the Bruins learned about themselves during the seven-game win streak that began during a six-game road trip, it's that they are a resilient bunch. When they combine that resiliency with a 60-minute effort, they can hang with any team in the league.

Just as they did in Tuesday's 1-0 win at Ottawa, when they were clearly tired and didn't have their legs in the final game of that road trip, the Bruins were still able to grind out at least a point Saturday in another case of fatigue getting the best of them. While they weren't necessarily using that as an excuse after Saturday's loss at TD Garden, they were still happy with the fact that they didn't give up and forced overtime in a game that earlier in the season they likely would've lost in regulation.

[+] EnlargeNathan Horton
Elsa/Getty ImagesNathan Horton assisted on David Krejci's goal to tie the score in the final minute of regulation Saturday, but it wasn't enough for the Bruins.

"We're resilient," said forward Shawn Thornton, who went toe-to-toe with Penguins forward Mike Rupp in the first period. "Obviously, we're not going to have everything every night, and tonight wasn't a full 60 minutes. But I still liked the way we came out in the third and tried, and we didn't give up.

"Like I said, we were resilient. We got ourselves a point, and that's eight in a row with getting points, so I'll take the positive out of it."

As Thornton pointed out, the Bruins can now recognize their mistakes, learn from them and start preparing for their archrival, the Montreal Canadiens, whom they will battle at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night. The Bruins know what they need to correct, and when they do correct those mistakes, they believe they're as good as any team in the NHL.

"It's one game here, and we know we weren't good enough -- but that being said, when we are going, we're as good as anybody," Thornton said. "If we put a 60-minute effort together, it could've been different, so we'll think about this until midnight and [then] get ready for Montreal on Tuesday."

That was the general feeling around the locker room, where there wasn't any sulking. The key to the win streak was isolating each game while maintaining lessons learned and momentum. After the loss to the Penguins, that seemed to be just what the Bruins were doing. They reflected on their mistakes and didn't dwell on them. The atmosphere was a far cry from what it was after some tough losses earlier in the season, such as a 3-2 overtime loss at Montreal in which the Bruins blew a late 2-0 lead.

Winger Michael Ryder also believes the recent stretch of success has taught the Bruins that they are an elite team when they play 60 minutes of hockey.

"Well, we know we have a good team in here and we know we can win," Ryder said. "I think we learned we have to be consistent every night. And when we're consistent for 60 minutes, good things happen.

"I think tonight, we had a couple little moments there where we didn't play the greatest. But overall, we got one point and that's the main thing. But it was a good run, and we've just got to make sure we come and bounce back next game."

The Penguins were playing the tail end of a back-to-back set on the road, having lost the first game to the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in overtime Friday night. As captain Zdeno Chara -- who scored his first goal in 19 games Saturday -- pointed out, the Bruins looked as if they were the team playing a back-to-back. But like his teammates said, these types of games happen and the important thing is the Bruins know and have proved they can be better.

"I thought that we didn't have our best game, that's for sure," Chara said. "We were just -- we had heavy legs, we didn't skate well, we didn't move the puck well. On the other side, Pittsburgh played extremely well. They put a lot of pressure on us. They took away space and time and we couldn't create much. … They had pretty good jump and energy. It almost felt like we were the team who played last night.

"But it's going to happen. You're going to have games like this where we were just slow and not moving the puck as well as we used to. But we worked extremely hard in the third and earned that point. That's the positive. Obviously, we'd like to get two [points], but it happens."

Now they must make sure it doesn't happen again in Montreal as they try to prevent the Habs from pulling to within three points of the Northeast Division lead the Bruins hold.

Tim Thomas knows that will be another challenge, and he and his teammates will be ready.

"We just have to get ready to play another tough game against another team who is playing very well and winning a lot of games," Thomas said of the Habs, who beat Tampa Bay on Saturday night for their fourth straight win. "Pittsburgh hadn't been winning, but they had been playing pretty good team hockey from what I heard about them. Montreal seems to be hot right now. We just have to be ready to play."

James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

James Murphy

Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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