June 23, 2014

Original 6: Most crushing Bruins playoff losses

By Joshua Kummins

The Montreal Canadiens, top left, once again broke Bruin hearts in 2014, opening another chapter in the team's history of crushing defeats in the playoffs. (Photos/Getty Images)

Some of the Boston Bruins’ most memorable moments have broken hearts. In the long and storied history of the Original Six franchise, there has been a fair share of good and bad. 2014 produced a major negative as the Bruins fell to the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals, ending a Presidents’ Trophy-winning season on a sour note. This month’s Original Six takes a look at some of the most disappointing playoff losses in franchise history:

1. 2013: Woeful 17 seconds

Near jubilation turned to heartbreak in just 17 seconds. The Bruins held a 2-1 lead on the Chicago Blackhawks with less than 1:20 to play in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, but a pair of defensive breakdowns led to goals from Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland and a Cup win for the visitors on TD Garden ice. The win gave the Blackhawks their second Stanley Cup in four years, capping off a stretch of three straight wins after facing a 2-1 series deficit. The series featured plenty of drama leading into the finale as the teams played to overtime in the first two games of the series and three times in total. In their first-round series’ Game 7 vs. Toronto, the Bruins became the first team in NHL history to overcome a three-goal third-period deficit to win a playoff game as Patrice Bergeron tied the game and scored the overtime winner, but in the finals, Chicago won the first and fourth games of the set in extra sessions to take the wind from Boston’s sails for the series win.

2. 1990: Klima the villain

Boston set a team record for wins in one postseason with 13 in 21 games, but the finish was not the desired outcome. The Bruins opened the playoffs with a seven-game series win over the rival Hartford Whalers before a five-game win over Montreal and a four-game sweep of Washington. In the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years, the Bruins were outmatched by the Edmonton Oilers in five games, losing by an average of more than three goals. The opening game of the series was as tense as it gets, but it turned to frustration quickly for the Bruins as Petr Klima ended the longest game in Stanley Cup Final history with a goal 15:13 into the third overtime. The Bruins got on the board with a 2-1 win in Edmonton on May 20 but fell off the track from there with 5-1 and 4-1 losses. John Byce tied the record for fastest goal to start a playoff game just 10 seconds into the first period of the series’ third game, but Boston recovered for its lone win against the Oilers. After winning at the right time against the Whalers and sweeping past their next two opponents, the Bruins just ran out of gas.

3. 2010: Philly collapse

After a pair of one-goal wins in Boston and one in Philadelphia, the Bruins were all but set in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals. Tuukka Rask led the Bruins to a 4-1 win on the road on May 5, and the B’s had an opportunity to close the series two nights later. That’s where the wheels came off. Simon Gagne scored an overtime winner on May 7 to put the Flyers on the board in the set, and a 4-0 loss and two consecutive one-goal defeats sent the Bruins packing. Gagne scored the winner in the decisive seventh game as well after the Bruins scored three goals in the first period. The collapse marked a first in Bruins history and one that had happened just twice previously in NHL history. Despite the loss, it marked the Bruins’ first time advancing to the second round of the NHL playoffs in consecutive years since 1991 and 1992.

4. 1979: Too many men

The Bruins handled Pittsburgh with ease in the quarterfinal round before a seven-game battle with Montreal in the Stanley Cup semifinals. In the deciding seventh game, the Bruins carried a 3-1 lead into the third period and the Habs were on the verge of falling short. Canadiens captain Yvan Cournoyer was not having any of it and his locker room speech during the second intermission is credited with turning the tide in the contest and breaking the Bruins’ hearts. From there, Mark Napier and Guy Lapointe scored for the Habs and head coach Don Cherry’s Bruins were called for a too many men on the ice penalty with less than three minutes remaining in regulation, which resulted in Guy Lafleur’s tying goal. Yvon Lambert finished Boston for the third consecutive season with an overtime winner, ending Cherry’s career as Boston’s bench boss.

5. 2012: Cap punishment

Boston was an overwhelming favorite to defend its 2011 Stanley Cup championship as it entered the first round against the Washington Capitals, but the Bruins underachieved and found themselves in a deciding seventh game at home with a berth in the next round on the line. With regular goaltenders Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth injured, the Caps turned to Braden Holtby, who opposed Tim Thomas in the first series in NHL history to have seven games decided by a single goal. In Game 7, a second consecutive overtime game and the fourth of the series, winger Joel Ward ended things quickly with a rebound goal to send Washington to the second round for just the third time since going to its only Stanley Cup Final in 1988. The series and the game would end Thomas’ career as a Bruin, while Holtby became just the third rookie netminder in NHL history to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champions.

6. 2014: Habs repel B's

After a 4-1 series win over Detroit, the Bruins were presented with a much more challenging course in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Because it came against the rival Montreal Canadiens, the seven-game series defeat hurt that much more. Things got off to a sour start in the May 1 series opener as P.K. Subban scored twice, including the game-winner in double overtime. In that contest, the Bruins attempted 98 shots and Carey Price made 48 saves. Boston recovered, though, tying the series on Matt Fraser’s lone goal of Game 5 on May 8, then Boston took the lead with a 4-2 home win two nights later. With an opportunity to lock up a trip to the next round, the Bruins scored one goal in the final two games, falling short in the deciding seventh game in Boston on May 14, 3-1.

This article originally appeared in the June edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to access the FREE digital edition.

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