Patriots

Bruins' power play kill slows surging Leafs

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Bruins' power play kill slows surging Leafs

The Maple Leafs had scored power play goals in eight straight games and were firing off at a 44 percent success rate headed into Saturday nights game against the Bruins.

So it goes without saying that Torontos special teams were featuring sky-high confidence heading into the weekend shot, but that offensive sureness didnt do them any good against a Boston club that beats them in every possible direction.

That span of offensive production and power play prowess came to a screeching halt against the Bruins, and the Bs held the Leafs power play to an 0-for-4 performance while taking down the 4-1 victory over Toronto at TD Garden.

The Bruins hatched a plan to disrupt Torontos ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone with speed and ferocity, and thats exactly what they did while shutting down the Leafs man advantage. Speedy penalty kill forwards like Daniel Paille and Rich Peverley were busting up Torontos power play formation into the offensive zone, and that maximum effort paid big dividends.

When the Leafs did enter into the offensive zone there were big hits like Johnny Boychuks body shot on Tyler Bozak, or Tuukka Rask smothering the few Toronto chances in between.

The specialty teams are always big. It depends on the game, but it seemed like we didnt have any power plays. They got power plays and they have a really good power play, so we wanted to make sure that we took away their speed on the breakout. We wanted to try to force them to make some plays that they dont want to make.

We did a really good job I thought on a lot of their entries and stop them right there. When we had the chance we put pressure on them.

Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly and Johnny Boychuk all logged more than three minutes of penalty kill work in Saturdays win, and Daniel Paille, Dennis Seidenberg and Rich Peverley all managed more than two minutes of PK work.

The biggest piece of the strategy against Toronto was staying disciplined and out of the box, but the collaborative work of the Bs penalty kill unit allowed only three shots on net when they did get their four power play chances.

We talked about being very disciplined tonight. Those calls that were madeIm not saying they were bad calls -- but they were really border-line and they chose to call. So I cant criticize our team for lacking discipline, said Claude Julien. But our PK came out there and did a great job, and Tuukka (Rask) made the saves when he had to. We put a lot of pressure up the ice and didnt make it easy for them to enter our zone.

The Bruins entered Saturday night seventh in the NHL with an 85.1 percent kill rate that just keeps climbing higher and higher after a few struggles to start the season and showed exactly how it can help the Bs win games along with an ever-improving power play unit.

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.