Chris Kelly  could at least joke about his near-miss in Game 4, some 14 hours after a certain goal went off his stick and hit the left post of the net vacated by Corey Crawford at the end of the second period. Had Kelly scored with 40 seconds left, the game would’ve been tied, 4-4. Instead, the Hawks made it to the dressing room clinging to a 4-3 lead.
“It is what it is,” Kelly said Thursday in front of his locker stall. “It would’ve been nice to put that in. It’s a game of inches. That just proved that even more. You just move forward. There’s nothing you can do about things like that. There’s no sense of dwelling on individual plays. I think there’s more important things to worry about.”
That didn’t keep the goal horn from going off for a moment inside the Garden.
“No, I knew I didn’t score but the horn kind of threw me,” Kelly said. “I thought the period was over. I looked up and there was like 40 seconds left. But no, it didn’t throw me off. I knew I didn’t score.”
Kelly said he had put the near-miss behind him until being reminded of it on Thursday.
“It was gone until you guys brought it up,” Kelly said. “Thanks for that.”
As for his teammates, Kelly is very confident that the Bruins can put Game 4 completely behind him.
“I think we’re a confident group in here and we know how to play and what brings us success,” Kelly said. “We’re a group that’s learned throughout the past and has been through a lot of things, not only this year but in years past. I think we’ll be fine for next game.
“I think both sides were pretty poor on the D-side of the puck. There’s certain plays you want to look back, try to eliminate, make better reads. It’s a game of mistakes. I think both sides made their fair share of mistakes.”
One thing Kelly made clear was that the blame for six goals should not be laid at the skates of Tuukka Rask .
“Tuukka was not the issue,” Kelly said. “It could’ve been much worse if it wasn’t for Tuukka. Some of the saves he made were phenomenal. Tukes has been, like I’ve said from Day 1, our most consistent player and continues to be.”
“It was a tough loss,” Kelly said. “They’re all tough at this point of the year. It’s one of those things you have to put behind you and look to the next one.”
“I don’t know. It’s never easy right after the game or the next morning. It is what it is. It’s 2-2 going there and it’s a best-of-three series.”
What wasn’t lost on Kelly is the positive of scoring six goals on Crawford and the Blackhawks defense.
“Most times you would be [upset at six goals allowed] but give them credit,” Kelly said. “They found a way to score that sixth goal. There were certain aspects that could’ve been better, especially on the defensive side of the puck. It’s just one of those things we’ll have to correct for the next game.
“I think we can do a better job of starting games than we have, managing the puck. I think it comes down to that, making sure to put the puck in the proper position and making the proper plays with the puck.”
Kelly made it clear that the Bruins understand the need to start stronger in these games. In three of the four games, the Bruins have been outplayed in the first 10 minutes of the first period, allowing Chicago to gain momentum.
“I think being prepared right from the start, playing a consistent game. I don’t think our effort was there for the entire 60-plus minutes. There were some good times and some bad times. We just need to be a more consistent hockey team.
“I think it’s been a Jekyll and Hyde season. I think everyone would admit to that. We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs. For the most part, the group has stayed pretty positive and there’s been a little adversity at times. We’ve played through a lot of things this year. We’re a close group because of things like that. We’ve been together for a few years now. It’s winding down but everyone in here is happy we’ve been together as long as we have been.”