3 takeaways from the Bruins’ 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets

Frederic's strong start, stars playing like stars, but a point squandered.

Bruins Jets David Pastrnak Connor Hellebuyck
Connor Hellebuyck needed every inch of his pad to keep David Pastrnak from scoring in the shootout on Tuesday night at TD Garden. –AP Photo

The Boston Bruins returned to the ice Tuesday night for the first time since Jan. 19, and what a game it was.

Fresh off an nine-day All-Star break, Boston outshot the Winnipeg Jets, 39-27, held two separate one-goal leads on the Central-division leaders and were in the driver’s seat heading into the final stanza.

However, it was all for naught. (Well, one point, anyway.) Two goals in 34 seconds from Kyle Connor set the Bruins behind the 8-ball and they never fully recovered.

Patrice Bergeron tied things up late in the third period with his second goal of the evening and the game headed to overtime, then ultimately a shootout, but Boston failed to capitalize on a plethora of chances. Jake DeBrusk, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand were all denied by Connor Hellebuyck in their shootout attempts, while Connor once again beat Jaroslav Halak to seal the Bruins fate.

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“I thought it was very good, for most of the night. I thought we had the better of the play when you look at the big picture, that part of it. A lot of positives,” Bruce Cassidy said following the 4-3 loss. “You have to be careful you don’t beat yourself, and I think there was a little bit of that tonight. No disrespect to Winnipeg. They’re one of the best teams in the National Hockey League, but I think some of it was self-inflicted, and the good teams don’t do that. So, we have to correct that. End up in overtime, and the shootouts, and those can go either way, and it went their way.”

Here’s what we learned from Winnipeg’s shootout victory at TD Garden.

Pastrnak and Bergeron get back to work

Bruce Cassidy often says that his best players need to be his best players. Against Winnipeg, they were just that.

Pastrnak and Bergeron accounted for all three of Boston’s goals and provided the usual dazzling moments expected from All-Star caliber players.

“I felt pretty good. It’s one of those things where you got to keep things simple especially early on. I thought we had some pretty good plays. We were playing a good line, good matchup, it’s a great challenge,” Bergeron said.

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Bergeron kicked things off in the early going off a crisp pass from linemate Brad Marchand. The four-time Selke winner collected himself and fired a one-time slapper that snuck past Hellebuyck for a 1-0 lead.

Later in the first, Pastrnak — not wanting Bergeron to have all of the fun — set up shop at the top of the left circle. As he has done often this season, the 22-year-old Czech unloaded a howitzer for his league-leading 14th power-play goal.

Despite a lack of secondary scoring, Bergeron added a second goal before Boston ultimately met its demise in the shootout. To put it simply, they can’t be expected to do it all.

Trent Frederic’s emphatic NHL debut

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In search of a permanent third-line center all season, the Bruins might have just found a new fan favorite in Trent Frederic.

“I thought he played very well. He’s as advertised,” Cassidy said about Frederic’s debut. “If he had a chance to shoot it he did, great scrap, good for him. We need some of that. There’s a lot of younger players in the league now, so it can’t be [Zdeno Chara] and [David] Backes policing 20-year-olds every night.”

Despite playing a team-low 8:29, the 20-year-old took little time to make his impact felt, squaring up with Brandon Tanev in the later stages of the second period.

At 6-foot-2-inches and 203 pounds, Frederic is no slouch and what ensued can best be described as third-degree murder. The former Wisconsin Badger threw a flurry of haymakers that sent Tanev crashing to the ice and TD Garden into a frenzy.

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“It just kind of happened naturally,” Frederic said. “It just kind of got chippy a little bit at that point of the game. I wasn’t really going in trying to get one tonight, but it just happened.”

Frederic held his own in his first career game and finished the night with two hits, two shots and of course, five penalty minutes. He showed spurts of chemistry playing alongside David Backes and Danton Heinen; Boston will certainly keep them as an option moving forward.

“It was tough that we didn’t get that extra point, but it was good. It was good to get my feet wet and it lived up to the hype of a first NHL game. It was a lot of fun,” Frederic added.

Jaroslav Halak folds down the stretch

Entering the third period, Boston held a comfortable 2-1 lead and Jaroslav Halak had faced just 17 shots. It all unraveled in an instant. Connor notched two goals — Halak would love to have each back — in a mere 34 seconds that flipped an otherwise one-sided hockey game.

“We’ve just got to be sharper there. Obviously, we needed a big save on one of those two and didn’t get it,” Cassidy said.

With Tuukka Rask sidelined with a concussion, Boston needs Halak to step up more than ever. However, Tuesday was just the latest blip in a series of shaky starts for the veteran. He figures to get another shot when the Bruins host Philadelphia on Thursday.