There would be no bloodying of the champ's lip or blackening of his eye by the Winnipeg Jets tonight in Boston, MA.
Instead, it was the defending champs who rained blow after blow on their semi-conscious and sorely depleted opposition in the games final frame, while spectators were left to wonder when officials would sound the final bell; ridding them of their misery.
The Winnipeg Jets had a 3-2 lead heading into tonight's third period on the back of goals by Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Eric Fehr, who each took their turn in registering a one goal lead for the challenger.
It was Nathan Horton and the unlikely offensive output from pugilist Shawn Thornton (who scored on a short-handed penalty shot) that managed to keep the Bruins within striking distance heading into the last round.
In the final stanza, the champ came out of his corner hungry; ready to strike while faced with the grim reality of potential back-to-back defeats on its home soil.
With that in the back of his mind, it took a mere eight seconds for the champ to stun their challenger.
Nathan Horton was left uncovered in the slot where he would tap his second goal of the game past a helpless Ondrej Pavelec, tying things at three.
The next six minutes of the bout were a foggy blur for the exasperated Jets as they skated aloof -- head in the clouds -- throwing the best counter punches they could muster in hopes of a miracle.
But with every feeble swing came another right cross/left upper-cut combo from the champ. Before most watching could regain their seats from celebrating Horton's goal, the Bruins gained a one goal lead on the heels of a great individual effort from Tyler Seguin.
And for good mesaure, the Bruins would deliver the crippling blow moments later, as Benoit Pouliot slid a power play marker underneath a sprawled out Ondrej Pavelec, cementing the judges final scorecard at 5-3 for the defending champion.
While the challenger faced a 10-count from the referee, badly busted up as they were, the Jets managed to drag themselves off the mat and finish the full sixty on their feet. For that, their fans can take solace.
That being said, how many more punches can the glass-jawed Winnipeg Jets take this January? After a December in which they dominated with brute force, the Jets are following it up with a month that has mostly accentuated all their deficiencies.
It's been often stated, but how long before they take themselves out of the challengers circle to wallow with those who have already lost their right to face the champ come April?
With each passing round in tonight's bout, there was reason to believe the Jets could be the second straight upset to the champ.
They had to know the champ would come out of their corner strong and looking to make up the points they lost early on. All the Jets had to do was circle away from Boston's dominant hand, land their jabs when they were available and avoid trading blows.
What happened in tonight's third period was the exact opposite of what Winnipeg's corner was telling them. They didn't watch the overhand right. Then they panicked and started to believe that now, surely they had to stand in the wheelhouse and trade shots with their strong competition.
Well, the results spoke for themselves.
Winnipeg will now head home to nurse their bumps and bruises before Thursday's match-up with the San Jose Sharks.
Their fan base can only hope that they follow their corners instructions in that one.
First Period: 16:53 Winnipeg ES Goal, Andrew Ladd (14) (Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom); 19:20 Boston ES Goal, Nathan Horton (13) (Milan Lucic, David Krejci)
Second Period: 00:31 Winnipeg ES Goal, Blake Wheeler (9) (Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian); 05:16 Boston SH PS Goal, Shawn Thornton (4) (unassisted); 11:11 Winnipeg ES Goal, Eric Fehr (1) (Tim Stapleton)
Third Period: 00:08 Boston ES Goal, Nathan Horton (14) (David Krejci, Milan Lucic); 03:06 Boston ES Goal, Tyler Seguin (17) (Patrice Bergeron); 06:41 Boston PP Goal Benoit Pouliot (8) (Patrice Bergeron, Rich Peverley)
Shots: Winnipeg 32, Boston 42
Three Stars: 1. Nathan Horton 2. Shawn Thornton 3. David Krejci
- Heading into this game, Winnipeg had a .941 Win % when leading after two periods. Well, it's lower now.
- Chris Thorburn showed a great individual effort to strip Dennis Seidenberg of the puck at Boston's blue line and streak in on a break away, drawing a penalty shot. Heck, even his penalty shot deke was high quality, he just can't catch a break right now.
- The Jets lost both Tanner Glass (high stick, stitches) and Zach Bogosian (lower-body) in tonight's game, which is status quo for the Jets. As soon as someone clears IR, it's just natural that someone else be put back on it.
- It really hurt not having Bogosian on the ice for the third period, as he had already registered two assists and 12:16 TOI over the first two periods.
- Antti Miettinen, Kyle Wellwood and Eric Fehr really impressed as a line tonight. The trio was buzzing throughout the game and Jets fans should remain optimistic that this line A) stays together and B) continues to play at the level it did tonight.
- Ondrej Pavelec currently ranks 5th in the NHL in the shots against category. Another 42 tonight should see his numbers continue to balloon.
- In the past twenty games where Nathan Horton has scored, Boston is 20-0-0. He had to score twice tonight to counter the Eric Fehr effect (Fehr scored his first as a Jet tonight).
- As noted previously by Arctic Ice Hockey, Boston's goal differential is scary good. With tonight's win they are +70 and they haven't even played 40 games yet. That's sick.
- What's really impressive about the Bruins is that they are scoring by committee. Tyler Seguin - the teams leading scorer - ranks only 25th in overall NHL scoring. They currently bolster a roster with nine (!) players who have scored more than twenty points. No other NHL team even comes close to matching that depth.
- Despite the lack of a third period from Winnipeg, this was really a back and forth affair. Winnipeg squandered three separate one goal leads.