Jeremy Swayman put forth another solid showing, but the Boston Bruins could not compensate for how much they got outplayed Monday night.
The Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning traded blows in the third period. But Boston couldn’t clear the puck from harm when it mattered most, surrendering the tying goal in the closing seconds of the third and the game-winner early in overtime.
Tanner Jeannot opened the scoring, driving hard to the net following a defensive miscue. His tally was a microcosm of how the Bruins struggled to prevent rush chances in the first period.
“I don’t know if the chances were that different,” Jim Montgomery said to NESN’s Andy Brickley. “I bet we ended up with more quality chances. We missed a lot of opportunities in the second where we had odd-man rushes. We just didn’t go tape-to-tape or we didn’t wait long enough to find the proper hole.”
The Bruins didn’t waste much time providing one of their responses to Tampa’s tallies. Pavel Zacha buried a slick feed by fellow countryman David Pastrnak for Boston’s first equalizer 3:16 after Jeannot’s tally.
Despite Tampa’s 19-12 edge in shots on net, the Bruins entered the first intermission tied 1-1.
Down one heading into the last 20 minutes, Boston tallied two quick strikes from Pastrnak and John Beecher in a 1:21 span for its first lead of the night. But the Lightning struck back, with Austin Watson netting the first of two Tampa third-period equalizers just 57 seconds later.
“There was some traffic in front of me, to the right side,” Swayman told reporters. “It was a well-placed shot.”
Despite Tampa’s relentless pressure, the Bruins found themselves on the cusp of their third straight win. With just 3:51 remaining, Charlie Coyle cashed in on a nifty feed from James van Riemsdyk to regain Boston’s one-goal lead.
But Boston failed to seal the deal in crunch time. Just moments after killing off Beecher’s penalty and with the extra attacker still on the ice, Steven Stamkos fired home another tying marker with a little under five seconds left in regulation.
The Bruins looked deflated after the last-second equalizer and barely touched the puck in overtime. Brandon Hagel put the final nail in Boston’s coffin, sneaking behind the D and burying the winner on Swayman.
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 5-4 overtime loss in Tampa.
Boston fails to close out a back-and-forth third period.
The B’s were outplayed in the first period but still found themselves tied at 1-1. They improved in the middle 20 but trailed 2-1 entering the third.
Amid Tampa’s relentless push, the Bruins capitalized on enough chances in the third to secure a pair of one-goal leads, only to come away with just one point at the end.
“At the end of the game, we have the puck on our stick,” Montgomery said to Brickley. “You don’t put pucks up the middle; you put them to the walls when you’re in the middle of the ice. We also can’t leave the zone before the puck has left.”
After Coyle’s late go-ahead-goal, the Bruins looked like they would pull another proverbial rabbit out of the hat. The Bruins didn’t play their cleanest game of the season but still cashed in on a handful of quality scoring chances.
But Boston made its biggest mistake of the night in the waning seconds as Zacha failed to clear the puck out of the zone. A timely keep-in from Victor Hedman at Tampa’s attacking blue line allowed the Bolts to set up their sequence for Stamkos’ tying tally.
“I think we need to develop a little more poise and understanding of time and score and how to close out games,” Montgomery said.
The Bruins battled the officials and themselves.
There were numerous instances – either calls or non-calls – where the Bruins got the short end of the stick.
Two non-calls in high-danger areas on Brad Marchand and Pastrnak headlined the night of up-and-down officiating. A noticeably frustrated Bruins bunch did not help themselves out in the second period.
“What an amazing effort by our penalty kill to have to kill seven penalties,” Montgomery said. “Pretty amazing in a game that was as close as it was that we had to kill seven penalties.”
Boston’s constant chatter to the referees in the middle frame only made the problem worse, as the parade to the penalty box continued in short order. But Boston’s PK bailed them out, allowing just one goal in seven shorthanded situations.
“We’ve got the best penalty kill in the league,” Montgomery added. “Our players sacrifice for each other. It’s just unfortunate that we had to kill that much.”
Beecher committed Boston’s final – and most costly – infraction of the night, taking a high-sticking penalty with 2:20 left. The Lightning didn’t score on the power play but tied the game just 15 seconds after Beecher’s infraction had expired against a tired set of Boston penalty killers.
Pastrnak’s playmaking ability continues to amaze.
Pastrnak’s third-period equalizer was pretty “vintage David Pastrnak,” but his assist on Zacha’s goal showcased his growing playmaking skillset.
Highlight-reel assists like the ones in Buffalo last Tuesday and in Tampa Monday, as well as Pastrnak’s assist-per-game pace, provide another layer to his otherworldly talent.
With his added playmaking touch, Pastrnak, who extended his point streak to seven games on Monday, sits tied for second in the league in scoring with Vancouver’s J.T. Miller.
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First appeared on www.boston.com