Bruins

Bruins can't take advantage of early gift

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Bruins can't take advantage of early gift

BOSTON -- The Bruins caught an early break on Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens. They thought it would lead to a win at home.

Instead, that early break was followed up with a major breakdown midway through the third period, resulting in a 2-1 Montreal win.

The B's had gone six straight games without scoring the first goal. They went 2-4 during that span. The last time Boston put the first puck in the net was back on Oct. 8 -- the second game of the regular season -- in a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It marked their first win of the year.

Thursday night marked the Bruins' sixth loss of the season. They couldn't take advantage of the good fortune they received on the first goal of the game.

"We were definitely hoping," said Bruins forward Brad Marchand. "When you get breaks like that, you want to find a way to build off it, and build some momentum. But after that, he seemed to tighten up and make some big saves."

That early break came in the form of what soccer fans would call an "own goal" off the stick of Canadiens center man Tomas Plekanec.

Plekanec won a face off in his own zone a little too cleanly, apparently, as his draw back to Montreal goaltender Carey Price went under the 'tender's stick, off the inside of his right skate, and into the net, for a 1-0 Bruins lead with 5:55 left in the first period.

"I just Bill Buckner'd it," said Price after the game. "Just a mental lapse. I just went to go play the puck, and I didn't let go of my stick, and it was in the back of the net."

Bergeron was credited with his second goal of the season, but that would be all Boston would get on this night.

"A few times this year, we've started out games behind, so when you can get a bounce like that and get out ahead, you're hoping it can be something that cascades into something else," said Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas. "But it didn't happen."

Thursday night started with an early break. It ended with a late breakdown, which ultimately cost the Bruins the game.

Midway through the third period, the luck didn't go Boston's way, as defenseman Adam McQuaid's attempted breakout pass through the neutral zone didn't go as planned, and it ended up on the stick of the Canadiens.

Following the neutral-zone turnover, Plekanec turned and took the puck down the right wing and into the Bruins' zone.

With McQuaid in his face, Plekanec took an initial shot that got past the B's defenseman and was saved by Thomas. Plekanec then skated right by McQuaid, and put home his own rebound on a quick snap shot.

"He took the shot from 10 feet away, he's a goal scorer," said Thomas.

"I was looking to try and hit Bergy up the middle there," said McQuaid. "I passed it a little too far in front of him, and they made a quick transition. So a bad pass on my part."

McQuaid had missed the previous four games with a headneck injury. And while it would be easy to point the finger at that late mishap, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn't about to throw any one player under the bus.

"It's his first game back," said Julien. "The way we're playing right now, it's too easy to jump on guys. And I'm not going to do that."

Perhaps the only thing that went right for the Bruins on Thursday night was the goal credited to Bergeron in the first period.

"We got the start that we wanted," he said afterwards.

They just didn't get the finish they were hoping for.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.