What we learned from the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss to Stars

The Bruins were sunk by their slow start.

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) grapples with Dallas Stars center Devin Shore (17) in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) grapples with Dallas Stars center Devin Shore (17) in the first period. –AP

COMMENTARY

Even when they aren’t playing their best, the Bruins find a way to come away with something. That’s the good news.

The bad news? Their effort against the Dallas Stars wasn’t good enough for two points.

The Bruins earned a point after trailing 2-0 to Tyler Seguin and company to extend their point streak to 13 straight games. But that’s all they got as the ex-Bruin swerved through a tired Boston defense during a long shift — on a delayed penalty — and notched his 22nd of the season during the 3-on-3 overtime.

“It was a game where we really got behind the 8-ball,” defenseman Torey Krug said. “We were focused on having a good start but we weren’t able to. Obviously, we found a way to come back, but there’s definitely some parts of the game where we’re going to start looking at and start sharpening up…”

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Here is what we learned from the B’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Stars on a Martin Luther King matinee from TD Garden.

Early start doesn’t do Bruins any favors

Ask any hockey player what they dislike about the 82-game schedule and a good handful would say early afternoon games.

Playing in their second game since the bye week, the Bruins could have used a pick me up to start things off. The Stars kept Anton Khudobin busy during the first 10:05 and outshot the Bruins 12-1 during that span.

The Bruins shook off that sluggish 10:05 and fired the next nine shots to end the opening stanza.

Neither team found the scoreboard despite firing a combined 22 of the games 65 shots on goal during the first 20 minutes.

Bergeron line gives up rare 5-on-5 goal

Entering Monday, the Bruins’ top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak allowed just one goal through the first half of the season. In Game 42, they allowed their second.

Just 4:26 after Stephen Johns gave the Stars a 1-0 lead with his fifth of the season, Alex Radulov put Dallas ahead banking home a rebound from Jamie Benn’s shot off the faceoff. The goal at 8:15 of the second gave Radulov his 40th point of the season — and 17th tally — becoming the fourth member of the Stars to reach that mark in 2017-18.

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The Stars’ top line of Benn, Radulov and Seguin combined for two of the three goals. The Bergeron line was shutout as each member of the talented trio earned a rare minus-1 rating.

Bruins show character while not playing their best

Much like Monday, there were certain instances where the Bruins haven’t looked sharp during their 13-game point streak. But they find a way to get a point out of it.

Against a structured Stars defense, the Bruins found just enough to tie things up. Zdeno Chara’s fourth of the season at 16:28 of the second gave the Black and Gold some much-needed life. The momentum swung when Ryan Spooner’s fifth of the season trickled past Kari Lehtonen — and off Jake DeBrusk’s arm — at 11:21 of the third.

“That’s the positive in this game; we were down two. We were able to scratch back against a very good defensive team,” head coach Bruce Cassidy assessed. “It’s one thing to do it against a team that gives up a lot [of goals], but this is a good defensive team, so that’s the positive in it all.”

Things could’ve ended on a real positive note for Cassidy and company had puck luck been on their side.

If it wasn’t for Lehtonen’s diving save on Matt Grzlecyk early in the third period, the Bruins would arguably come away with two points. Instead, they had to settle for their third straight overtime appearance.

Bruins need more work in 3-on-3 overtime

One sore spot of the Bruins 2017-18 season is their 3-on-3 overtime record. The Black and Gold dropped to 1-6 in 3-on-3 play following Seguin’s game-winner.

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A few extra wins in 3-on-3 and the Bruins would be within striking distance of the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. Perhaps a little more structure in their own end will help.

“We know it’s man-on-man and maybe being a little sharper with that,” Bergeron said about the 3-on-3 issues and the sequence leading to Seguin’s game-clincher. “On that one, it’s basically penalty kill, right. It’s 4-on- 3, so it’s not easy and guys aren’t necessarily used to killing. It wasn’t easy, but it would’ve been nice to get a whistle and settle things back down, but, you know, I think overtime is one of those things where, yes, you have to go on offense, but also make sure we’re playing good defense.”

The Bruins had not lost to the Lonestar State squad in 12 prior overtime appearances dating back to their days in Minnesota.

Another former Bruin set for Boston return

Unlike their result against Seguin, the Bruins earned a 4-3 win in Montreal in their first matchup with Claude Julien since his dismissal last February. They’ll be looking for win No. 2 against their former bench boss during Julien’s return to Causeway Street on Wednesday night.

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