Bruins/Flames (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)
On a night that gave a sellout TD Garden crowd yet another glimpse back at what was in Bruin-turned-Flame Dougie Hamilton, it was the play of another former Bruin, Flames goaltender Chad Johnson, that made the real difference in a 2-1 B’s loss.
In Boston for his fifth career start against the Bruins (Johnson entered play with two wins and a .933 save percentage in four prior head-to-heads with his old club), the Flames stymied many of the Bruins’ early period chances with 11 missed opportunities for the B’s via blocked shots and misses. They then opened the game’s scoring at the 8:36 mark when Sam Bennett capitalized on a weak B’s play at the attacking blue line, as a weak Kevan Miller shot was intercepted the Flames, pushed the other way in another parting of the seas split against the Joe Morrow and Miller pairing (like the Mark Stone goal in Ottawa the night before), and finished off for an easy Bennett strike.
With a lead, Johnson dazzled in his first chances against. His best stop of a five-shot first period came on a great one-two-three sequence of sorts that allowed David Pastrnak to storm in for a great tip chance. He followed that up with a second period robbery up of the Bruins’ Brad Marchand, this one off a great feed from Marchand.
But in the third, the Bruins finally broke through the Walls of Johnson, with a net-front jam from Pastrnak for No. 88’s 12th goal of the season and a 1-1 draw with 14:05 left in the third.
Just 70 seconds later, though, the Flames countered with an Alex Chiasson goal. Caught in perfect spacing between Morrow and Miller — also known as completely uncovered — Chiasson beat Khudobin upstairs for his third goal of the season and another one-goal lead for the Flames. And though the Bruins pressed with a late-game surge, including a strong 6-on-4 run for the final minute of play spent almost entirely in the Calgary zone, Johnson stood tall with 35 stops on 36 shots against.
In his first start since Oct. 22 after 15 games missed due to an upper-body injury, the 30-year-old Khudobin stopped 27-of-29 shots against, and looked to shake off any lingering rust as the game went on.
The loss also extended the B’s losing streak to three games, a tie for their longest of the year, and the Black and Gold have now dropped four out of their last five contests overall.
Here are four other things we learned in the loss.
Pastrnak continues scoring ways with team-leading 12th goal
David Pastrnak is just straight-up ridiculous. There’s no other way to say it. In just his 16th game of the season, the 20-year-old scored a then-tying goal, good for his 12th of the season. The goal was also the second in as many games for the ultra-talented Czech winger. In fact, Pastrnak has now scored in all but five games for the Black and Gold this season. On a team that’s seriously short on both scorers and luck this season, Pastrnak has been everything and more for the B’s.
Shot generation once again an issue for B’s
One game after a season-low 20 shots on goal in a 3-1 loss to the Senators last night, the Bruins once again struggled to get pucks on net early in this game. Through one period of play, in spite of 16 attempted shots, the Bruins had just five shots land on net. Through 40 minutes, with 39 attempts on net, just 16 shots hit the Calgary net. It’s worth noting, however, that the Bruins did turn it on in the third period with 20 shots in the final 20 minutes of play.
Second period Marchand goal disallowed due to NHL Rule 69.1
The Bruins appeared to tie this game early in the second period when Patrice Bergeron punched a loose puck into a vacant Calgary cage (with the help of a Dougie Hamilton tip into the net). But upon a challenge from the Flames, it was ruled that the Flames’ Chad Johnson was down and out of the crease only because of a collision with captain Mark Giordano. A collision that would not have occurred had Giordano not been pushed into Johnson by B’s winger Brad Marchand.
It’s a weird call, sure, especially given the fact that it technically was not Marchand that interfered with Johnson but Johnson’s own teammates, but allowing such a goal to stand would create an incredibly blurred lines that’d see attacking forwards attempt to push defenders into any and every wandering goaltender on just about every single dump-in for the rest of time.
And don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure this was the 100th goal that was either disallowed or called off for the Bruins since the league instituted the coach’s challenge last year.
Spooner demoted to fourth line
Tough love might be the only kind of love Ryan Spooner will get from head coach Claude Julien this season. In less than a week, Spooner has been demoted from his second line spot on the left wing down to the center of the fourth line, moved to the third-line center spot, moved back to the second line wing, and now most recently, bumped down to the fourth line, this time on the wing.
With Spooner bumped back down to the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey moved back up to the second line with David Krejci and David Backes. Tim Schaller moved up to Beleskey’s spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Austin Czarnik.
Spooner was also moved off the team’s first power-play unit. Brad Marchand took his spot there, while Spooner did continue to log power-play time, just on the second unit. Spooner did however move back to the first unit in the third period… but only because Marchand was in the box.
At a certain point, you really have to wonder what’s going to become of Spooner this season, as he’s been constantly shuffled about, and totally unable to find any consistency in his game.
The Bruins are back in action Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden.