BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins let another game slip away in the third period Thursday night, and head coach Claude Julien was not pleased about it.
“Every once in a while your players will disappoint you and this is one of them,” Julien said following Boston’s 2-1 shootout loss in Winnipeg. “You expected better leadership. We lost races and battles to a team that skated for over an hour [on Wednesday.] So, to me, it just showed that there wasn’t much interest in the game.”
Thursday night marked the second straight game in which the Bruins squandered a third period lead, once again falling in a shootout. They still remain the best team in the NHL with just two games remaining until the playoffs, but Julien was hoping for a better push as the regular season came to a close.
“Hopefully, it’s just a bit of a phase here that we’re going through and we can pick up our game because bad habits creep in quickly and they’re hard to break,” said the head coach. “So, hopefully we got that message tonight.”
The last two losses have come with some of Boston’s notable stars on the bench. David Krejci was given a breather on Tuesday night in Minnesota, and Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara got a blow on Thursday. Netminder Tuukka Rask was also given a night’s rest on Thursday with Chad Johnson stopping 36 of the 37 shots he saw between the pipes in regulation.
But even with some of the team’s most vocal leaders out, Julien said with a team full of veterans who have played in big games there is no excuse for their recent poor showings when it comes to closing out games.
“Just because you rest players, doesn’t mean you want your teams to relax,” said Julien. “If you’re going to get dressed and you’re going to play, you’ve got to play hard, no matter what.
“If we were getting ready for the playoffs, we’d play a lot better than that,” he said. “We looked like a disinterested team tonight, and [the Jets] were determined to have a good strong finish here and they did.”
Boston held on to a 1-0 lead for the majority of the evening, but Jets’ forward Evander Kane beat Chad Johnson for the equalizer with just 1:05 left in regulation. Winnipeg out-shot Boston 15-10 in the third period, and B’s forward Brad Marchand admitted that the Jets were the hungrier team.
“It seemed like they really wanted it. We didn’t really push back, we were pretty sloppy in our end, and it ended up costing us,” said Marchand, who scored his 20th goal of the season early in the first period. “It just seems like we’re not prepared and we should be.
“We’re still fighting for the top of the League and we want to make sure we finish there, so we’ve got to be a lot more prepared for the next game and make sure we come out our best,” he added.
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