NASHVILLE – The Bruins had a particularly vexing brand of frustration as they ushered out of Bridgestone Arena on Monday night after dropping a 5-3 game to a red-hot Nashville Predators group on their home ice.
The Bruins outshot the Predators by a 40-25 margin and seemed to control healthy chunks of the 60-minute game at both ends of the ice, and they even finished strong with a couple of goals scored in a third-period barrage. But the B’s also piled up the defensive zone breakdowns and so-so goaltending in the opening 25 minutes of the game, and that was too much to overcome after falling behind by a four-goal margin.
“Digging yourself a 4-0 deficit is certainly not a good recipe for winning games,” said David Backes. “The second half of the game was much better, but it was too little, too late. We need to start on time.”
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A long Anton Khudobin rebound turned into goal No. 1 for the Predators on the stick of Craig Smith, and Torey Krug vacated his defensive position to open up a free lane for Smith to score his second goal after a perfectly chipped pass from Kevin Fiala. Nick Bonino scored on a scramble in front of the Boston net just two minutes into the third period, and then Kevin Fiala twisted Zdeno Chara into a defensive pretzel on a drive to the net before again beating Khudobin with the shot.
The Bruins had their problems with a Kevin Fiala-Kyle Turris-Craig Smith line that accounted for three goals, seven points and a plus-6 rating for the game, but the Bruins acknowledged afterward it was much more about shooting themselves in the foot.
"The [Predators] are pretty deep, they play hard, but they didn’t really deserve a lot. We just kind of gave it to them. It’s tough to lose like that,” said Brad Marchand, who finished with an assist as one of only three plus players on the Bruins roster along with linemates David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron. “We did a good job of pushing back and making it a game, but we need wins.
“You can’t give a good team like that so many good scoring opportunities. . . especially unforced. I thought we played the better out of the two teams. No matter the score I thought we played better than they did, but we just gave up a few chances they capitalized on.”
There were some positives to be taken from a strong showing against a quality opponent in Nashville that’s playing close to the top of their game. The Bruins enjoyed plenty of offensive chances, they finished with 40 shots on net and they showed ample heart and character in clawing back from a four-goal deficit.
But they also let a winnable game slip through their fingers through simple mistakes and mediocre goaltending, and that’s a losing formula we saw far too much of from the Bruins in the first six weeks of the season.