The Bruins’ latest lost hurt more than usual, as Zdeno Chara left Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Islanders after just five shifts in the first period.
The team announced at the start of the second period that Chara would not be retuning to the game, though they did not specify why. With Chara out, the B’s were forced to play with five defensemen the rest of the way.
Chara and Dougie Hamilton were both beaten in front early on in the night as Frans Nielsen took a pass from Josh Bailey and put it behind Niklas Svedberg at 6:21 of the first. Milan Lucic answered back with his first goal of the season, which came off a nice play from linemate Seth Griffith.
The Bruins struggled mightily in the second period, with Kyle Okposo scoring on a particularly rough shift from Matt Bartkowski and Cal Clutterbuck later capitalizing on poor coverage from Boston’s third line to make it 3-1.
The third line would make it up, however, as Chris Kelly won an offensive zone faceoff and jumped on a loose puck after a Carl Soderberg shot bounced off Brian Strait and into the slot. Kelly fired it into the net for his second goal of the season, bringing the B’s within a goal.
The Bruins proceeded to put forth a feverish comeback bid, spending long stretches in the offensive zone with good looks, but they were unable to out a game-tying goal past former B’s netminder Chad Johnson.
The game marked the return of former Bruin Johnny Boychuk to the Garden. Boychuk received a standing ovation during a first-period video tribute.
With the loss, the Bruins are now 4-5-0 on the season.
Here are some notes from the game:
- Chara played only five shifts, the last of which lasted 1:06. He didn’t appear to be hurt at any point during the shift, though he did land a big open-ice hit on Islanders captain John Tavares. After a TV timeout, Chara stayed on the ice to finish his shift.
- Chara was actually having his second consecutive rough game before exiting the game. He was on the ice for a 5-on-5 goal against (Bailey’s goal) with Bergeron on the ice for the second straight game and had a minus-10 even strength Corsi in his five shifts on the night.
- It was also another bad night for Patrice Bergeron, who was a minus-2 and could have been a minus-3 if Okposo made more of the opportunity that arose when Bergeron whiffed on a puck high in the offensive zone to send the play the other way.
- Matt Bartkowski had just a woeful shift on Okposo’s goal. After Tavares lost him deep in the zone, Bartkowski went to the net, leaving Bergeron to take Tavares. As has become a recurring theme, Bartkowski lost track of the guy going to the net, and Okposo was unencumbered as he stood feet from Bartkowski and batted the rebound from Tavares’ shot past Svedberg.
- Having to play with five defensemen when Chara isn’t one of them isn’t something Boston’s struggling defense is at all suited for. Bartkowski was also on the ice for Cal Clutterbuck’s goal, as the B’s got burned with a pair of Bartkowski and Torey Krug in their own end. The blown coverage on the play, however, fell on a forward in Loui Eriksson.
- Seth Griffith is fitting in more and more with each game. He made a nice play on Lucic’s goal, taking a pass from Krejci as the line entered the zone and throwing a pass towards the net from the high in the zone. With Lucic driving to the net with Cal Clutterbuck, the puck went off either Lucic’s skate or stick and beat Johnson. The play gave Griffith a two-game point-streak (one goal, one assist) since re-entering the lineup Tuesday.
- The Bruins obviously had to mix and match on defense once Chara left the game, but here was the lineup to begin the game:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – Krug
Bartkowski – McQuaid