Bruins

Bruins explode for three goals in second period, beat Red Wings, 4-2

Bruins explode for three goals in second period, beat Red Wings, 4-2

BOSTON – The Bruins continued their preseason display of youth and speed by opening their home exhibition season with a win over the Red Wings at TD Garden.

After a scoreless first period, the Bruins exploded for three goals in the middle 20 minutes with scores from Ryan Fitzgerald, Danton Heinen and Austin Czarnik that paced them to a 4-2 victory over Detroit, and gives them a 2-0-0 record thus far in the preseason.

The Bruins and Red Wings battled to a scoreless tie after the first 20 minutes of play, but things loosened up after that in a game that Boston controlled for long stretches with puck possession and transition offense. The first goal was actually a great individual rush by Jakub Zboril, who dropped a pass to a wide-open Fitzgerald for the finish past Petr Mrazek. Little more than four minutes later Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson drove the net, drew the defense toward him and then fed to a wide open Heinen crashing on the backdoor.

Czarnik put the punctuation mark on a strong game by earning himself a penalty shot after getting behind the Red Wings defense, and scored the game-winning goal in the second period. Detroit scored a couple of goals afterward to make it a competitive third period, but they didn’t have enough to overtake Anton Khudobin playing the full game for the B’s. Teddy Purcell added an insurance marker late in the third period after finishing off a 3-on-1 feed from Czarnik. 

Khudobin finished with 14 saves in a win that was dominated by the home team in front of the home crowd. The only downer in the preseason win was both Torey Krug (puck to the face) and Forsbacka Karlsson (big hit in corner) getting dinged up as things went along. 

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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.