The captain took the weight and the blame.

“It’s a big mistake and a bad time to make it,’’ said Dion Phaneuf, facing a phalanx of reporters in the funereal wake of a Game 4 loss, his face both pink from exertion and grey, a look of bruising around the eyes, in the eyes.

“I take responsibility for it. It’s unacceptable.’’

Unacceptable might be harsh, though the outcome, the consequence, was heart-crushing.

What Phaneuf did, with just over six minutes remaining in the first overtime period of the Eastern Conference quarter-final against Boston, was pinch at the point, stepping in to keep the play contained in the Bruin zone along the boards, a collision of bodies occurring as sticks flew in the air. But Nathan Horton just barely poked the puck past Phaneuf. It was seized upon by David Krejci who verily flew down an open wing, 130 feet of ice covered, drawing a bead on James Reimer, using Milan Lucic as a passing decoy but never letting go of the puck until he saw the wedge of net-space that beckoned and only then ripping a dead-eye wrister.

Only D-man Ryan O’Byrne — late-season pickup, healthy scratch four times in the regular season since his April acquisition from Colorado, a disaster in Game 3 turnovers — had been left holding the coverage bag behind Phaneuf when he committed on that play inside the Boston blue line, Phil Kessel hustling fast as his turbo-jets legs would take him to assist. But there was no catching up and Reimer, edging further and further backwards in his cage as Krejci approached, could offer scant rebuff.

Krejci had a hat trick. Bruins had their third win in this series, 4-3. And Toronto was zero-for-home, action now reverting to Boston and a playoff do-or-die date Friday.

They really did deserve better on this evening, despite squandering an early 2-0 lead, then clawing their way back to a tie at the end of regulation, the dominant team in the third, the dominant team in OT as the play swung back and forth in immensely lively and energetic style, even when it was obvious that players were gasping for air.

And Phaneuf, well, he made a decision in the heat of the moment that he bitterly regretted afterwards.

“I jumped to keep the puck in. Obviously he chipped it by.’’

Bereft of any follow-up questions, journalists simply repeated the one just posed — along the lines of, what were you thinking Dion?

“I just explained that I made a wrong decision. I don’t know what more you want me to say.’’

He should have been aware, perhaps, of how dicey and high-risk that particular gamble was, in overtime, with Boston’s most proficient forward line on the ice, with Krejci already potting a pair and in the groove and quite probably beyond restraining, certainly beyond catching.

“It’s a split-second decision,’’ Phaneuf said, but not in a self-justifying way. “It’s a fast game and the guy chipped it. Like I said, it’s a costly decision.’’