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by: Ty Anderson on Tue, 04/18/2017 - 2:26am
A series cannot be won or lost in Game 3, and that’s still true in this round one war between the Bruins and Senators. But it can give you a good idea as to who will win and who will lose said series.
In Boston for their first playoff game in three years, the Bruins began the night with a familiar failure, as the Sens jumped on them for three goals in the opening 23:42 of the night. At that point, the Sens had a heavy 17-to-4 advantage in shots, and the B’s were on the cusp of being run out of their own building and on their biggest stage to date. Just like they were on a regular basis during their two-season break from postseason contention. The Bruins battled back, of course, with three goals in 7:46 and on just six shots, but it was the Sens that prevailed by way of Bobby Ryan’s goal just 5:43 into overtime.
It was a defeat that could cause a hanging head rested above black and gold shoulders.
As it should.
When you talk about Game 3’s, you really talk about what’s really been the B’s bread and butter.
The Bruins entered this game with a 14-2 record in Game 3’s since the start of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a 5-0 mark at TD Garden. It’s also worth noting that the team that’s won Game 3 has gone on to win the series in 12 of those 16 series. No team that’s beaten the Bruins in Game 3 has gone on to lose the series, by the way, which means that a Bruins win in Game 3 has led to a Bruins series win on all but four of 14 situations in which they’ve done that; Montreal in 2008 (an eight-seed B’s group minus their best center against a top-seed Habs squad), Philadelphia in 2010 (one of the biggest chokes in NHL history, and that’s not even talking about the in-game choke in Game 7), Washington in 2012 (the most boring series I’ve ever lived through), and Chicago in 2013 (a loss to the league’s newest dynasty in their prime) are the four.
Also: Those two losses in their 14-2 Game 3 record came in their 2009 second-round series with the Hurricanes and 2014’s round two meeting with the Canadiens. The Bruins lost both of those series.
They’re not the most inspiring statistics heading into Wednesday’s seemingly must-win Game 4.
But they also probably mean nothing to the Bruins.
Let’s be real: Half of them probably don’t even remember 2009 against the ‘Canes. Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci are the only remaining Bruins that were even around for that series. The club’s No. 2 defenseman by default, Charlie McAvoy, was living in New York at the time and was also 11 years old when that happened, too. Pastrnak, drafted more than a month later, was not even Bruins property when the Habs did it to ‘em in 2014. To them, it’s irrelevant.
It’s the same principles that the Bruins applied when they were asked again and again and again about the possibility of choking away a playoff spot for the third straight season around this time last month. “We want to write our own story,” was the common response from those players.
That has to be the motto for another chapter penned by these Bruins, too.
It’s doable, too. Even in two straight overtime defeats, the positives are easy to find for the shorthanded Bruins. Even down four NHL defensemen and with David Krejci at less than 100 percent in his return to action in Game 3, the Bruins have found ways to score on Craig Anderson. They’ve found ways to beat the Sens’ patented neutral zone shutdown, and have typically gotten better as the games have gone on. Even in Game 3 they found a way to erase a three-goal hole.
“I mean, that in itself is a positive right there,” McAvoy said of the comeback. “We can take that going into Wednesday into the rest of the series or for the rest of this postseason. We went down three to nothing and we came back; Not a one-goal lead we took back, or a two-goal lead, we squashed a three-goal lead. You know, we know that this group can do great things.”
But it’s finding that next gear that’s become a problem for the Bruins.
If they find it in Game 2, they either extend their two-goal edge to three or simply keep the Senators off the board in the final 15 minutes of the third period. If it’s there in Game 3, the Bruins find the fourth goal in regulation to cap their comeback. If they find that, they also take chance -- and when I say that, I really mean the penalties that doomed them in overtime in both losses this series -- out of the equation and simply control their own fate, which was another focus of ‘their story’ to get here.
“It’s obviously not what we were looking for but another one-goal game, another tight checking game, another game where every play was magnified, and I expect the next one to be the same way and we get this thing tied back 2-2, you know, best of three kind of series, that’s our focus now,” B’s forward David Backes said. “We’ve got to take this, digest it, and then move on because it’s in the books and all we can affect it now is Wednesday’s game and come out flying in that one and take control of the game for a full 60 minutes would be a sight that would be pleasantly received I think.
“We’ve got good players on this team and this hurts, this sucks, but it’s not over.”
And there’s only one simple solution for the Bruins, who are 8-22 all-time when trailing a series 2-1, moving forward.
“Come back in Game 4,” said Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles.