The Boston Bruins ended their latest four-game road trip by engaging in another wild contest, as they scored three power play goals in the third period but succumbed to the potent Winnipeg Jets offense in a thrilling 5-4 shootout loss on Tuesday night.
The game was marred by questionable officiating, a dirty hit that resulted in yet another Bruins’ injury, and more controversy, but the final 25 minutes was glorious, playoff hockey.
Here are my six Extra Beats after catching my breath from another frantic Bruins comeback came up just short:
- The Bruins just don’t quit.
The B’s did not play well in the first two periods of Tuesday’s contest. Winnipeg imposed its will for lengthy stretches, as they appeared to be on a constant power play for nearly the entire first half of the second period. The Jets are fast, big, and super talented, which led to problems throughout the first 40 minutes of play. Boston was fortunate to escape with a 1-1 tie after the first, but trailed by two goals entering the final period of regulation. But did anyone watching really think Boston wouldn’t make another comeback? The B’s took full advantage of the dirty hit that ended the second (more on that to come), and the 5-on-3 that ensued after their first PPG was incorrectly challenged, but also allowed a shorthanded goal that would have sucked the life out of most teams. But the B’s just kept pushing after that letdown, ultimately tying it up yet again on Torey Krug’s PPG with eight minutes gone in the third. Boston nearly stole the extra point at the end of overtime, as Jets’ goalie Connor Hellebuyck robbed Brad Marchand of a breakaway goal as time expired. The B’s failed to complete the comeback in the shootout, but secured a point to give them six out of a possible eight points in their four-game trip. Down multiple bodies, in a hostile environment, and at the end of another trip, Boston still found a way to take a point from one of the best teams in the NHL. It’s just what this team does.
- Controversial goals tallied on both ends, as officiating struggled mightily.
Bruins’ fans (and NESN commentators) are still trying to figure out how the first of Brandon Tanev’s three goals even counted:
Tanev stuffs the puck into the net, maybe. Closest ref said no goal, but call on the ice was goalhttps://t.co/rsjeO9V4V8
— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) March 28, 2018
Tanev followed with a no-doubter to start the second, but there was a bit more controversy on former Bruins’ defenseman Joe Morrow’s tally that made it 3-1. One official had his arm up for what would seem to be an icing call on the play, but the linesman closest to the play seemed to wave it off, as the puck wrapped around the net and bounced up the boards. Morrow scored soon afterwards, and the B’s didn’t put up much of an argument on the failed icing call.
Boston’s first of their three third-period PPGs was controversial as well, as Heinen barely kept the puck in the offensive zone (or did he?) before eventually scoring off of a turnover. The Jets challenged the PPG, and drew a two-minute bench minor after the play was upheld, giving Boston a 5-on-3 which led to the equalizer from David Pastrnak. The refs giveth, and the refs taketh away for the home team, as both teams scored off of goals that probably shouldn’t have counted.
- Morrissey’s illegal hit on Grzelcyk was a game-changer.
The end of the second period saw Brad Marchand (legally) hit Mark Scheifele, then Josh Morrissey (illegally) countered with a brutal hit on Matt Grzelcyk that led to a five-minute major and three special teams goals. Unfortunately for the B’s, Grzelcyk would not return to the ice after the second intermission, as he was clearly shaken up and needed assistance from the training staff after Morrissey left his skates and barreled into the young defenseman:
Second period ends with a big hit and boarding penalty from Josh Morrissey on Matt Grzelcyk: pic.twitter.com/R46Si86unY
— Boston Bruins on CLNS (@BruinsCLNS) March 28, 2018
Boston responded with two power play goals during the five-minute major, which led to them earning a point. That hit from Morrissey should clearly lead to a suspension for the Jets’ defenseman, and hopefully Grzelcyk will be back on the ice for Thursday night’s huge showdown with the Lightning.
- Krug, Carlo, Miller step up with man down in the 3rd.
With Grzelcyk out for the third period and OT, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and Kevan Miller were awarded most of the ice time down the stretch. Krug led the way with an impressive 26:28 of ice time, including over six minutes on the power play. Krug notched a goal and an assist, and has become an integral part of the defense this year, especially while Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy have been out with injuries. Brandon Carlo continued his strong play of late, playing for 23:20 and staying on the ice for the entire two minutes of penalty kill that Boston had late in the game. Carlo also took the place of Grzelcyk on the second line in overtime, and has picked up his intensity as of late as he tries to secure a spot on the playoff roster. Miller was on the ice for 22:46, which would have been higher if not for a questionable boarding call against him late in the third period. Miller had two shots on goals, two hits, and two blocks, and has earned the trust of the coaching staff throughout another solid season.
- Bergeron line surprisingly off, especially on even strength.
It is an extremely rare occasion to not only see the Bergeron line split up, but the three players on it combine for a -8 rating in one game, but that’s what happened on Tuesday night. Bergeron was held scoreless with a -2 rating, Marchand had two assists on the last two PPGs but ended with a -3 rating, and Pastrnak scored but also had a -3 rating. The Jets matched up their fourth line against the top line of the Bruins all game long, and Tanev notched all three of his goals with the Bergeron line on the ice. Bruce Cassidy switched Tommy Wingels with Pastrnak midway through the game, as Pasta moved back to the second line with David Krejci and Ryan Donato, as he sensed that it just wasn’t the night for his customary top line. Boston will need a strong effort from its top players during the entirety of its playoff run, and hopefully this was just a sign of fatigue and Bergeron still getting acclimated back into game action.
- Bruins earn point to set up first-place duel on Thursday.
Boston had a chance to leap over the Lightning into first place in the Atlantic Division (and the Eastern Conference) with a victory, but still remain one point back with one game in hand after the SO loss. The two teams face off on Thursday night in Boston with first place on the line, with the winner having the clear edge for home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Boston is coming off an impressive 3-0 shutout win over Tampa Bay on St. Patrick’s Day, and has won both meetings this season with one more coming in Tampa on April 3rd.