The Bruins overcame an 0-2 deficit to earn one point in a shootout loss to the Flyers Tuesday night. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)
Down their two most experienced defensemen and against a team that entered play with the second-most goals for this season, the Bruins found a way to snatch overtime defeat from the jaws of regulation defeat against the Flyers in a 3-2 shootout loss Tuesday night.
In a nightmarish start to the night given their ownership of the puck and attacking zone time in an opening period that favored the Bruins in shots by a 19-to-9 mark, the Bruins found themselves in an 0-2 hole through one behind Philly goals from Michael Del Zotto and captain Claude Giroux (a power-play goal) scored just 1:32 apart.
The second period brought about more of the same for the Bruins, as it has for most of this season actually, with noteworthy opportunities and shot totals against the Flyers’ Steve Mason. But, still, zero goals.
Without a goal on 30 total shots through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins finally broke through 4:26 into the third when David Krejci’s shot bounced and trickled through Mason’s pads. The goal, Krejci’s first since Nov. 13, brought the B’s within one and broke a frustrating 45-minute stretch that came with nothing to show for their strong effort.
Krejci’s goal proved to be the one that broke the dam for the Black and Gold shooters, too, as the equally snakebitten Brad Marchand followed Krejci’s tally up with one of his own just 1:18 later, and brought the Bruins even at 2-2.
And after a phenomenal overtime frame in which the Bruins and Flyers traded chances — the shots were 6-to-1 for the Bruins but there was no better chance than Giroux’s one-time blast on a 2-on-1 stoned by Rask with just seconds left in the three-on-three, five-minute period — the B’s went to their second shootout of the season.
From there, the Bruins scored just one goal, a Marchand beauty scored in the bottom of the fifth round, but fell when David Backes could not answer a top of the ninth go-ahead shootout marker from the Flyers’ Shayne Gostisbehere.
A shootout loss is nothing worth celebrating if you’re the Black and Gold, of course, but in a way, it sorta is. When you think about the games that the Bruins have lost this season (the two last-minute losses to the Canadiens and Wild stick out in this regard), you think about the points that were left on the table. Down by two and shooting blanks on Mason through two periods, to escape this game with at least one point is practically a win for the Bruins, and that’s one more point that they didn’t have entering today.
Here are four other things we learned in the shootout loss.
Shorthanded miscue, bad luck burns B’s on Giroux goal
It took all of about four seconds for Riley Nash to regret his decision to head back to the bench in search of a new stick.
With Nash’s twig dumped off to Brandon Carlo after Carlo’s stick broke for the second time in the period, Nash thought he had a moment to rush back to the bench when Jakub Voracek’s one-timer went high and off glass. But what Nash did not anticipate (and how could he?), however, was the perfect bounce off the plexi and right back to Claude Giroux, who fed it back to Voracek, and then back to Giroux for the fifth goal of the season for the Flyer captain.
The power-play goal against put an end to a stretch of 16 consecutive success penalty kills by the Bruins.
Officiating was a hot mess in this game
Complaining about the officials is the ultimate loser’s lament. I know this. You know this. We know this.
But holy hell, did the referees tonight in Philly have a straight-up dreadful night.
Not only did the referees fall for a complete flop by Andrew MacDonald on a B’s power play in the second period with just David Backes sentenced to the box for a hook, but when the roles were reversed in the third period and David Pastrnak was tripped up through the neutral zone as both legs were tripped, the referees sentenced Pastrnak to a two-minute embellishment call to negate a power-play opportunity. OK, sure, whatever. Flyer sniper Jakub Voracek was then given a penalty shot chance on a marginal-at-best holding whistled against Joe Morrow. Rask helped silence what would have been a disastrous call against with a stop on the subsequent penalty shot from Voracek. The referees then missed a clear as day slash on Matt Beleskey that honestly prevented what would have been an easy goal for No. 39. Again, there was no call against MacDonald on this play. Seriously.
Mason continues to stand tall against Bruins
Heading into tonight’s game, Steve Mason was the only goaltender in the NHL to have played at least 14 games in net and have a sub-.900 save percentage on the year. In spite of those figures this season, however, Mason also entered play with five wins and a .930 save percentage in 10 starts against the Bruins, including a 2-0-0 mark and .920 a year ago.
The latter outdid the former Tuesday night, too, as Mason was absolutely dynamite against the B’s early and often, and finished regulation with stops on all but two of the 41 shots thrown his way. Mason would add another six stops in the overtime for a season-high 45 saves, and stopped all but one of the nine shooters he faced in the shootout for his sixth win of the season.
Krejci line puts forth dominant performance
In their second game with Tim Schaller to the left of David Krejci and David Backes, the B’s second line put forth one of their most dominant performances of the season, and outright dominated the puck at five-on-five play. Led by Krejci’s game-high eight shots on goal (Krejci finally scored on his sixth shot of the night), the 59-46-42 trio routinely created positive chances and generated second chance opportunities either between the circles or in front of net. Oddly enough, though, the line’s only goal of the night came when Ryan Spooner took a shift in Schaller’s place on that line, though Spooner did not record a point on the goal.
But the biggest positive to take from the line’s performance? Its centerpiece, of course, and that’s Krejci. As he has in so many prior head-to-heads with the Flyers, Krejci looked like a man possessed tonight, and looked like the Krejci of old in the loss.
And don’t look now, but the Czech pivot has points in seven of his last 10 contests.
The Bruins are back in action Thursday night at TD Garden against the Hurricanes in a 7 p.m. puckdrop.