Talking Points from Bruins' 5-4 loss to Canadiens: Offside call the turning point

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Talking Points from Bruins' 5-4 loss to Canadiens: Offside call the turning point

GOLD STAR: Victor Mete was a solid, solid player for the Habs in this one. He opened the scoring in the first period with a nice shot off a deflected puck in front of the Boston net, and then he closed out the second period with a goal that featured bodies flying all around Tuukka Rask in the crease. The goals were Mete’s second and third of the season, and acted as the cherry on top of the sundae on a night when he finished with five shots on net and seven shot attempts in 20:53 of ice time to go along with three blocked shots. Mete was strong at both ends of the ice for Montreal and is part of a Canadiens back end that’s helped the Habs step up their offensive attack this season.

BLACK EYE: Tuukka Rask was not good in this one. It was his worst game of the year as he allowed all five goals on 31 shots and simply missed with his glove on the final Ben Chiarot shot from the face-off circle that he got a clear look at. He was similarly beaten in the first period for a pair of goals within 31 seconds of each other after David Pastrnak scored to tie up the game, and got sucked into some contact in front of the net at the end of the second period instead of battling to try and stop a Victor Mete goal as well. For a guy that’s been pretty much invincible this season between the pipes, Rask finally showed cracks and did it as the well-rested guy behind a team that battled their way to a comeback over Pittsburgh 24 hours earlier. Rask simply didn’t give the B’s a chance to win in Montreal.

TURNING POINT: The turning point was very clearly the third period when Zach Senyshyn fed Charlie Coyle for a goal that would have put the Bruins ahead 5-4 in the third period, and would have finally given them a foothold in a game they were chasing all night. Instead, Coyle was perhaps offside depending upon the interpretation of the rule and it took three minutes for the officials to decide whether or not to overturn the play. Once the goal was taken off the board, the Habs got one more soft goal past Tuukka Rask and that was all it took for the Canadiens to hold on in the third period at a raucous Bell Centre. Afterward, the Bruins were understandably miffed about a questionable challenge review costing them an important divisional game, but then again they also allowed five goals. So they didn’t exactly deserve to win either.

HONORABLE MENTION: Anders Bjork had a hell of a night for the Bruins. He scored his second goal of the season, was in the middle of the third period score that got overturned and led the Bruins with six shots on net in the game. He also a plus-3 in just 12:07 of ice time and was part of a third line with Charlie Coyle and Zach Senyshyn that Bruce Cassidy said was his best line all night in the Tuesday night showdown with the Habs. That is very good news for Bjork as he’d seemed to quiet down a little bit in the last couple of games, and it was natural to wonder if he was regressing a little after an adrenaline-filled start to his stint in Boston. Nope. He played with speed and aggressiveness and scored his goal by getting his nose dirty around the net for a rebound goal. That’s something he was not doing in the last two seasons when he was in Boston.

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of goals in 15 games this season for David Pastrnak, the fastest a Bruins player has gotten to the 15-goal mark since Peter McNab did it for the B’s way back in 1976-77.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The rule was specifically put in place for egregious [examples]. They were over there for 3 minutes. You think 'What's the purpose of this rule?' Either you find something or you don't...3 minutes. So now you're looking for something to be offsides.” –Bruce Cassidy, not a fan of the coach’s challenge for being offside that overturned a Charlie Coyle goal in the third period that ended up being the difference in the game.

WATCH: Controversial offsides call erases Coyle goal>>>

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Bruins mired in losing streak: 'I don't think we've sucked'

Bruins mired in losing streak: 'I don't think we've sucked'

TAMPA BAY – The Bruins have dropped five games in a row for the first time this season, including four straight regulation losses, as their lead in the Atlantic Division has shrunk to single digits for the first time in weeks.

The latest setback was a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Thursday night that gives them losses in three of the first four games on a road trip ending this weekend against the Florida Panthers. The Lightning scored a pair of power play goals and once again, it looked like the B’s just didn’t have enough to get over the hump in the third period after they’d come up just a little short against Washington the previous night.

The offense has slowed with just 20 goals over the last nine games since blowing up for eight scores at the Bell Centre, and the power play has been a shadow of its former self while injuries forced the Bruins to tinker with the personnel. The penalty kill was the problem against the Lightning with Tampa Bay scoring on two of their three power play opportunities. Meanwhile, the B’s are getting very little offense from anybody aside from their top line once again.

The Bruins have enough veterans that they aren’t going to hit the panic button particularly given where they are in the standings, but some results are becoming necessary soon before it spirals out of control.

“It sucks to lose. We hate to lose here. But we’ve played decent. You’re not going to win them all. Obviously, you’re not going to go 80-3 or whatever it was that [Brett] Ritchie said,” said Tuukka Rask, who allowed three goals on 31 shots in defeat. “You don’t want to lose too many games in a row and you’ve got to put a stop to it. It’s been a tough road trip, but we’ve got one more game left and hopefully we can finish it off on a high note.

“We have experience and we’ve been through a lot. We recognize when we suck and when we don’t. I don’t think we’ve sucked. It’s just a matter of getting a couple of bounces, getting a lead and then playing with it. For the most part it’s just playing the right way and then you lose some of these tight games.”

The good news is that the Bruins have played much better against better opponents in Washington and Tampa Bay over the last couple of games after playing down to competition like Ottawa and Chicago in the games prior to that. But the losses aren’t going to turn into wins until they execute with a little more precision in certain instances where penalties, special teams play and a lack of secondary offense hurt them in a big way.

“We gave up two goals tonight where we’d won neutral zone face-offs. Harmless kind of plays where the puck doesn’t get in, we turn it over and then we take penalties against a potent power play,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We didn’t help ourselves in those situations. These are instances where guys need to be better, make the right play and execute.

“Even late in the game we have a chance to tie it up on a backdoor pass and we don’t execute. The power play was disappointing. We don’t execute. Some of it is that we’re playing to what we’re capable of, or what we think we’re capable of.”

Given that Florida is one of the teams most closely chasing them in the division and their Atlantic lead has almost been halved over the course of this current road trip, one would expect the Bruins are going to dig deep for a winning effort against the Panthers on Saturday. If not, then this continues to become the worst losing streak the B’s have experienced in a couple of seasons where they’ve previously managed to steer clear of the extended losing stretches.

Tim Thomas tears up while discussing hockey related brain injuries >>>

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Penalty kill kills Bruins against the Lightning as B's drop fifth straight game

Penalty kill kills Bruins against the Lightning as B's drop fifth straight game

GOLD STAR: Steve Stamkos has really powered the Lightning this season and he was the No. 1 factor for them in their win over the Bruins. It was Stamkos who evened things up in the second period when he was left wide open in the slot area on the PP and wristed one under Tuukka Rask’s glove to get the Bolts on the board. Then he scored the game-winner in the third period after turnovers from John Moore and Patrice Bergeron in the defensive zone as he fired one from the high slot that Tuukka Rask managed to get a glancing piece of before it passed him.

Stamkos finished with two goals and a plus-1 rating in 17:07 of ice time to go along with six shot attempts and three hits for the Tampa captain.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins penalty kill was atrocious allowing Tampa two power play goals in three chances, and really not even being that competitive about it in the special teams battle. Stamkos got a wide open look all alone in the slot with time and space to snap a wrist shot past Tuukka Rask for the first power play goal and the Bruins PK was running around on the second Tampa power play possession before Nikita Kucherov fed Brayden Point in front for the goal through traffic.

Meanwhile, the Bruins went 0-for-3 on their own power play and once again lost the special teams battle after dominating that battleground earlier in the season.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins were in good shape for most of the game until more than midway through the third period when breakdowns in their own end doomed them. It was John Moore and Patrice Bergeron that lost battles and didn’t clear pucks before Steve Stamkos gathered it in and rifled home the game-winner from the high slot on a blast that Tuukka Rask couldn’t quite get a clean glove save on in the moment.

The Stamkos goal gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead in the third period that was cut into when Moore picked up a goal later on, but for the second night in a row, the B’s didn’t have quite enough to get over the hump against a quality opponent.

HONORABLE MENTION: Maybe he could have squeezed off a shot in the third period when he had a clear look at the net, but Charlie McAvoy was one of the few Bruins players generating offense with the game on the line in the final 20 minutes. He was taking pucks hard to the net, drawing penalties and making things happen when it appeared the legs were tiring for other members of the Black and Gold.

McAvoy finished with three shots on net, five hits while soaking up a team-high 27:41 of ice time for the Bruins. He picked up an assist on the Patrice Bergeron goal in the first period as well and had one of his better games for the B’s as of late. That’s a good sign that things are turning around for him after a slow start and a recent inconsistent stretch.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 – the number of points lead in the Atlantic Division for the Bruins, the first time since Nov. 26 that it was in single digits after a Bruins loss and Sabres win on Thursday night.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We hate to lose, but we’re not going to go 80-3 or whatever it was that (Brett) Ritchie said.” –Tuukka Rask, talking about five losses in a row and poking fun at a Ritchie quote from Washington a few days ago where he killed some basic math. 

Tim Thomas tears up while discussing hockey related brain injuries >>>

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