Tuukka Rask allowed six goals on Monday. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Even with Zdeno Chara back, the Bruins are not strong on defense. They will need Tuukka Rask to be himself in order to be a good team. In Boston’s first real good chance to steal a win, he wasn’t himself.
With the Bruins capitalizing on a poor start from the Lightning Monday at TD Garden, Boston’s chances of upsetting last season’s Eastern Conference champions were hurt by a pair of goals the former Vezina winner routinely stopped in games and seasons prior. The end result was a 6-3 loss and an 0-3-0 start for the first time since the 1999-00 season.
The biggest damage was done in the opening minutes of the third with Tampa clinging to a one-goal lead. Patrice Bergeron got a stick on a shot from Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin off the rush. The result was a sputtering puck that Rask was in position to stop but saw lightly kick off the inside of his right skate and through his legs.
That led to a Bronx cheer from the Garden crowd on his next save, as Rask had also given up a softy on a slow-moving puck in front during a first-period Tampa power play.
Fortunately for the B’s, they aren’t yet as bad as that 1999-00 team, as that group didn’t pick up a win until its 10th game of the season.
Here are four more things we learned Monday:
TOP UNIT IS TOPS
Say what you will about Claude Julien‘s personnel choices for the second power play unit (see below), but the top group of David Krejci and Torey Krug on the point with Ryan Spooner on the half wall, Patrice Bergeron in the slot and Loui Eriksson in the slot was terrific Monday.
Krejci gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead 18 seconds into Boston’s first power play, while Eriksson picked up his first of the season 23 seconds into a Vladislav Namestnikov holding penalty. Eriksson added his second of the day during a second-period power play, using his shaft to redirect a shot from Krejci.
JULIEN MAKES RIGHT CALL WITH KELLY
By putting Brett Connolly on Patrice Bergeron’s line, Claude Julien broke up a third line that was borderline terrible defensively. To fix it, he moved Jimmy Hayes to the right of Ryan Spooner and promoted Chris Kelly to play left wing/babysitter has he did successfully in previous years for Carl Soderberg.
The move paid immediate dividends for the Bruins. Kelly stole a puck in the neutral zone in the line’s first shift of the game, leading to a lengthy offensive zone stay in which the snakebitten Spooner nearly scored. Kelly was then hooked by Matthew Carle to give Boston a power play on which Krejci scored the game’s opening goal. Spooner would draw another penalty midway through the period to set up Eriksson’s first goal of the day.
KREJCI GETS THE POINTS
New linemates haven’t gotten in the way of David Krejci getting off to a strong start. With a goal and two assists Monday, Krejci now has five points (two goals, three assists) in three games this season. It’s the first time since 2010-11 that Krejci has had points in the first three games of a campaign.
PASTRNAK FALTERS ON SECOND UNIT
With Brad Marchand out with a concussion, David Pastrnak figured to see time on Boston’s second power play unit. He didn’t do much with his chance Monday, as he made a bad pass that was easily intercepted by Brian Boyle at the end of a second-period power play for Boston. Boyle kicked the puck to himself, fended off the slender Pastrnak with ease and scored a breakaway goal to make it 3-2 in Tampa’s favor.