Every Bruins game these days seems to end in overtime or a shootout. The trend continued during Saturday’s tilt with the Nashville Predators as neither team could seize the game in regulation.
And, once again, Bruce Cassidy’s squad had to settle for one point.
The Bruins controlled the tempo and pace of play for a majority of the evening and held a 2-1 lead in the third period behind goals from Par Lindholm and Patrice Bergeron.
Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi scored 35 seconds apart to take a 3-2 lead in the third period. But the Bruins battled back over the final 12 minutes, eventually netting the equalizer on Bergeron’s tip with 1:05 left in regulation.
Can’t leave Ellis open in the slot but this also hits the ref so ?♂️ pic.twitter.com/5CZrImq4d2
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) December 22, 2019
Ryan Ellis sealed Boston’s fate with 55 seconds left in the extra session.
“I thought we were playing well to start the third. Again, playing the right way, had some chances at the start of the period to extend the lead,” Cassidy said following the 4-3 loss to Nashville.
“But we made a couple of self-inflicted errors as well that led to those goals; we overskate a puck behind the net, kind of a real iffy call it looked like, and their extra guy comes on, helps score a goal. So, some of those things you’ve got to battle through. The other one’s a shot block, maybe we’ve got to make a better decision.”
Here’s what we learned after the Bruins dropped their eighth decision in the last nine games.
Jaroslav Halak’s costly mistakes put the Bruins behind in the third.
The Bruins entered the third period with a 2-1 lead. They opened the period with a flurry of chances that would have extended the lead if not for stellar play from Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne.
Then everything unraveled.
The Bruins surrendered two goals in 35 seconds near the halfway mark of the third period. Then there was Jaroslav Halak’s head-scratching decision leading to Nashville’s third goal of the evening.
With the score tied 2-2, Josi sped down the ice in pursuit of a loose puck. Out of nowhere, Halak left his net and attempted to clear the puck before Josi could make a play. Halak couldn’t clear the puck out of the zone and left a wide-open net for Josi to notch his second goal of the evening.
jaro wyd pic.twitter.com/J2k0Toop4w
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) December 22, 2019
“Just one of those plays that bounced the other way and he was able to put it in,” Halak (25 saves) said about the blunder. “Just a simple mistake, it happens to everyone. Whenever the goalie makes a mistake there’s nobody that can cover most of the time.”
Halak and Tuukka Rask provide the Bruins with a rare luxury of having two No. 1 goalies. Yet they haven’t lived up to the billing as of late, and the Bruins need that to change quickly.
Frustration builds as the Bruins are now on the opposite end of close games.
Cassidy’s side put the league on notice early in the season when they found different ways to win. Blowouts, close games, comeback efforts and even overtime, it didn’t matter.
Things have changed since their last home win back on Dec. 3 against Carolina. The Bruins, despite playing good hockey during certain stretches, are ending up on the wrong side of those same close games. All but two of their losses during their 1-4-4 stretch have ended in one-goal.
“I think our guys are sick of losing, to be honest with you,” Cassidy said.
The players mirrored that message after yet another one-goal loss.
There’s a level of frustration inside the Boston locker room, but the team isn’t panicking. They’ve played well enough to win these games but found themselves a bounce or two short during their roughest stretch of the season.
“We are in every game,” Charlie McAvoy said. “We were winning tonight and then gave up two goals quick. It kind of feels like – I don’t know, I’m going to have to go back and look at it. It’s frustrating for sure. We have to keep our heads about us, we are getting points.”
That being said, the Bruins are still tallying points as they continue to separate themselves from the rest of the Atlantic Division pack. During this stretch, they have played some of the toughest teams in the league with games against the Capitals, Lightning, Islanders, and Predators.
“You can’t just enjoy things when they are good and then when things are bad, just jump ship. That’s too easy,” Bergeron said. “I’ve said it before — it’s a long season and hopefully these things make you stronger and that’s when you have to be behind each other, support each other and find ways to win. I wouldn’t want to do that with a different group.”
Charlie McAvoy might be cursed.
Poor puck luck can hit a player from time to time. One of Boston’s best all-around defensemen, however, has been snakebitten all season long.
McAvoy is still searching for his first goal this season, his last regular-season score coming on March 27.
His poor luck continued on Saturday, his birthday.
During the second period against the Predators, McAvoy joined the rush, received a crisp pass in the high slot, made a nice toe drag and fired a wrist shot off of the post. He skated back to the bench with a look of disbelief following that sequence.
“I’m doing my best,” McAvoy said. “I’ve played well. It’s just tough when you get a chance like that. I don’t know. Hopefully, I’ll just breakthrough soon.”