Bruce Cassidy’s team has made a habit of taking penalties at bad times. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)
For the third game in a row, an untimely penalty was costly for the Bruins.
A too-many-men penalty with 4:10 remaining in the third period forced the Bruins to have to kill time while trailing 1-0, and they then struggled to set their offense in the final two minutes. The Bruins had a 13-minute stretch without a shot on goal, and finished with just 22 overall and never could get into a rhythm late.
“It was a little harder to create some [chances],” said Patrice Bergeron. “Once they got that goal they were closing us a little bit more and we have got to find ways to put pucks in deep and go back to what we’ve been doing earlier in that game.”
That call at the end of the game comes on the heels of a Riley Nash penalty in overtime during Game 3 and a Zdeno Chara delay of game call in Game 2 that led directly to Senators goals that won those contests.
In Game 4, the Bruins penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3, but that doesn’t hide the fact that untimely penalties have been problematic.
Every game in the series has been decided by one goal, all the more reason for discipline to be at the forefront.
“Usually games are very tight,” Chara said. “Some of the games could have went our way but they didn’t and we can’t be blaming that or be frustrated, we need to keep our heads up and get ready for the next one.”
Especially on a shortened roster, where two defensemen in Charlie McAvoy and Joe Morrow saw little-to-no time all season, those man-down situations wear out the defense.
“I thought what we’ve asked our defensemen to do, I think they’ve done a pretty good job for guys that got thrown into the situation,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But, part of what we talk about for our guys is to own your moments. You’re getting an opportunity, and one that you probably wanted more of during the year. So, you’re asking a lot. But, by the same token, that’s what’s in front of them.”
The first penalty of the contest was on Kevan Miller in the opening frame, and with he and Chara the only remaining blueliners who were regular penalty killers all season, that proves even more costly.
On the other end, the Bruins also haven’t been able to get calls their way.
“Our power play through the course of the year has generated offense,” said Cassidy. “We haven’t drawn enough penalties too. So, we’ve got to look at ourselves there and say, how can we get on the power play and get inside more often, force them to pull you down a little bit.”
The Bruins have a chance to extend the series to a Game 6 on Garden ice if they can win on Friday in Ottawa, but with an offense that has struggled to put the puck in the net, continuing to give away opportunities could burn them.