The Boston Bruins' season came to an end in Game 6 of their second-round playoff series against the New York Islanders, and self-inflicted wounds played a huge part in the 6-2 loss at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders scored three of their first four goals as a result of Bruins turnovers and/or sloppy puck management. It's tough to beat any team when you can't handle the puck in your own end.
The Bruins also were the worse team at 5-on-5 Wednesday night, which was not the case for most of the series. The Islanders opened up a 4-1 lead in the second period and didn't let the Bruins get back into the game. Scoring chances were hard to come by for Boston over the final 20 minutes. The B's also went a 14-minute stretch in the third period with zero shots on goal.
Here are three takeaways from Game 6.
1) Second period disaster
The Islanders owned the second period throughout the series, and it was again the difference in the clinching Game 6.
These teams were tied 1-1 after the first period and then the Islanders exploded for three goals to widen their lead to 4-1 entering the second intermission.
New York outscored Boston 11-3 in the second period over six games. Being forced to play catch-up hockey in the third period against one of the league's best defensive teams with a quality goalie in Semyon Varlamov is a tough position for any team to overcome.
2) Turnovers and mistakes doom B's
The Islanders are a relentless team with an excellent forecheck and they rarely give any opposing player much time and space with the puck. Therefore, puck protection needs to be a top priority against them, and the Bruins displayed very little of that in Game 6.
Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk had a brutal night and coughed up the puck on two of the Islanders' goals. Brock Nelson took the puck from Grzelcyk at the B's blue line and scored on a breakaway to put the Islanders up 2-1 in the second period.
The Islanders' third goal was the result of an abysmal sequence by the B's in their own end. Tuukka Rask fired a hard pass right into Mike Reilly's skates that was impossible to handle. The puck eventually made its way to the front of the net after the Bruins couldn't clear it and Nelson scored his second goal of the game.
Grzelcyk also wasn't able to handle the puck on Kyle Palmieri's second-period goal.
Sloppy puck management cost the Bruins a chance to extend their season.
3) Carlo, Miller absences played huge factor
The Bruins' blue line was missing two key veterans for most of the series, and it forced younger (and less skilled) players to fill roles they aren't really suited for.
Kevan Miller didn't play at all in the series after taking a high hit in Game 4 of the first round. Carlo was injured in the third period of Game 3 and didn't return.
The Bruins' penalty kill was abysmal in the series. The Islanders went 6-for-16 on the power play (37.5 percent), well above their regular season success rate of 18.8 percent. Carlo and Miller are two of the most important Bruins penalty killers, and their absence forced players such as Jarred Tinordi, Connor Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon to play a larger share of shorthanded ice time.
It's no coincidence that Islanders star Mathew Barzal finally started playing well after Carlo went down. Carlo was matched up against Barzal for most of his 5-on-5 ice time in the series and the Islanders didn't score a single goal in those minutes. Without Carlo, Barzal finally broke through with goals in Games 3, 4 and 5.
Boston's first penalty kill pairing in Game 6 facing elimination was Tinordi-Lauzon, which is pretty bad. McAvoy was unavailable at the time after taking a cheap shot from Palmieri earlier in the second period.
A banged-up blue line and a goalie playing at less than 100 percent health was ultimately too much for the Bruins to overcome against a very good Islanders team.