Boston entered the evening with back-to-back losses on its record, while Philadelphia had won five games in a row. Thursday night, both of those streaks continued.
The Bruins, in similar fashion to their performance on Tuesday against Winnipeg, jumped out to an early lead and controlled most of the play. Despite holding two separate one-goal leads, Boston’s defense faltered down the stretch and the teams had to settle for overtime.
Brad Marchand took a costly penalty in the first minute of the extra session and Boston never recovered. Travis Sanheim drifted through the high slot and found the top-left corner with 2:04 left on the clock to propel the Flyers to victory.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 1, 2019
“Listen, give Philly credit. They’re playing well. They’ve won now six in a row. They’re doing things they need to do to win, but more self-inflicted damage from the backend tonight,” Bruce Cassidy said following the 3-2 loss. “It’s up to the leaders back there, it’s up to me and it’s up to Kevin Dean. We have to straighten this out now because we’re not scoring enough to get away with it.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s third consecutive loss at TD Garden.
Defensive miscues cost Boston
In each of the past three games, the Bruins have held leads in the third period, but they haven’t been able to close opponents out. Some of that is due in part to untimely mistakes by Boston’s defensive unit.
This was on full display against the Flyers.
With less than a minute left in the opening period and the Bruins holding a 1-0 lead, Charlie McAvoy attacked in the offensive end and whiffed on a shot. The puck fell right to Jakub Voracek, who was able to spring Claude Giroux for a breakaway goal.
Instead of heading to the dressing room up a goal, the Bruins found themselves tied and fighting for momentum.
“Very disappointed, that group, the ability to identify what’s going on, time, and score,” Cassidy spiritedly said. “To give up a breakaway in the last minute, get caught up the ice. They gave up a two-on-one to Giroux. Mistakes on the back end are increasing and we have to put the brakes on it.”
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 1, 2019
This is just the latest blunder committed by the Bruins over the past few games, and it’s beginning to cost them points against inferior opponents.
With secondary scoring coming at a premium for Boston, easily avoidable mistakes simply can’t happen for this team to be successful.
Tuukka Rask solid in return
Tuukka Rask made his return to the lineup after sustaining a concussion against the New York Rangers on Jan. 19 and picked up right where he left off.
“I felt good yesterday, been feeling good for a few days so I think it’s good to get back in the groove. I don’t think it does any good to practice and practice and practice. Good to get a game in and go from there,” Rask said about rejoining the team.
For the longest stretch it appeared that he was about to notch win No. 253, making him the winningest goalie in franchise history. However, that changed when Oskar Lindblom snuck a shot past him on Philadelphia’s power play midway through the third period.
Despite giving up the three goals, Rask stood tall in net and made numerous key saves, including a clutch shoulder-save on a Scott Laughton penalty shot in the final period.
The 31-year-old netminder was certainly not the problem Thursday night, and Cassidy made that very clear in his postgame press conference.
“I thought Tuukka [Rask] was terrific, gave us every chance to win the game,” Cassidy said about his goaltender’s 38-save effort. “It didn’t work out for us in that regard, in terms of generating enough goals for him, but no issues with Tuukka at all.”
A few more servings of David Pastrnak
David Pastrnak has been everything the Bruins could have dreamed of this season and much more.
The first-time All-Star simply dazzles whenever he is on the ice, and ‘wow’ moments have become the norm.
Thursday night against Philadelphia, Pastrnak was up to his usual antics and put on a show. The 22-year-old finished with two goals and a game-high five shots on net. The crazy thing is, he could have had more if not for a slew of near misses.
But it isn’t just filling up the stat sheet that makes him so special, it’s his highlight reel playmaking ability. Early in the first period, Pastrnak showed off his mitts of marinara and put Claude Giroux through a spin cycle.
If not for a tripping penalty that ultimately led to his first goal of the night, you might have seen this on the latest edition of SportsCenter’s Top 10.
Through 51 games, Pastrnak has accumulated 61 points (30 goals, 31 assists) and has been adamant about reaching the 50-goal threshold this season. But just how good of a season is he having?
In short, very. Pastrnak is the fastest Bruins player to reach 30 goals in a season since Cam Neely in 1993-94.
“Yeah, obviously it’s good,” Pastrnak said about his achievement. “Obviously a big thanks to my teammates. It’s fun – I feel good about my game. Hopefully it changes into playing well as a team.”