GOLD STAR: The Bruins are going to continue to have trouble against the deeper teams in the league, and that means struggles against the second and third lines on quality hockey clubs.
That’s what happened against the Lightning on Wednesday afternoon with guys like Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn doing the damage for the Bolts. Johnson scored the game-winner with less than two minutes to go in the third period when he slammed home the rebound of a Yanni Gourde blast after the Lightning began tilting the ice in their favor toward the end of the game.
Johnson finished with a goal and two points, a plus-1 and four shot attempts in 12:53 of ice time for Tampa Bay while using his speed and creativity to manufacture offensive chances against different B’s lines.
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BLACK EYE: He was better in the first half of the game than the second half, but Zdeno Chara didn’t look all that good against the fast, skilled and deep Lightning group. He looked a step behind in the early going when the Bruins allowed a number of odd-man rushes leading up to the first goal, and then he and Charlie McAvoy both had a mental error on a too many men on the ice penalty that led to Tampa’s second goal.
Chara settled in as things went along and finished with an assist on a Chris Wagner goal that tied things up, so it wasn’t a total loss for the 43-year-old captain. But many are going to be looking at him to see how his skating legs respond to the long layoff from hockey over the last five months, and he had definite troubles in pockets of Wednesday’s game.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins got the ice tilted on them in the third period when the Lightning outshot the B’s by a 16-9 margin and really laid it on in the final few minutes of the game before notching the winning goal.
It was a Bruins turnover from Brandon Carlo in the final few minutes as they were breaking the puck out that developed into Tampa counter-attacking and putting heavy pressure on the Bruins defense. Ultimately, the Tampa attack broke in all alone for the Tyler Johnson rebound goal after an initial Yanni Gourde blast. Carlo was another player that didn’t have a particularly strong game in 16:43 of ice time and probably needs to step up his game a little bit with the real Stanley Cup Playoffs less than a week away.
HONORABLE MENTION: The best Bruins player through the first two games of the round robin has been fourth line winger Chris Wagner. The B’s forward has scored goals in each of the first two games and potted the game-tying score in the second period when he whacked home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara point blast.
Wagner finished with two shots on net, four total shot attempts, a team-high six hits and a pair of blocked shots in just 10:55 of ice time. If some of the other Bruins forwards were playing with the same level of energy, spirit and relentlessness right now, the Bruins would be in much better shape than facing a possible No. 4 seed to start the four rounds of the postseason. Wagner is bringing it right now.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the top seed is no longer achievable for the Bruins after losing both of the first two round robin games in regulation, and now they’ll need to play for final placement in the Sunday game against Washington. A loss could pit them against the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought it was a good effort. I thought we took it to them [after a tough start] and had some pretty good looks, some chances and tied the game up. Obviously, you want to give yourself a better chance and go into overtime and find a way. Not the result that you want but definitely felt more like [a good effort] tonight.” –Patrice Bergeron, on a loss to Tampa that started to feel a lot more like a typical Bruins game after two sluggish losses in the Toronto bubble.