Bruins short-term focus to be tested after rough ending in Toronto
Given the tight contest throughout Monday’s Bruins-Leafs contest, it appeared the two teams would at least come away with one point.
From the tensions rising to the exciting back and forth action, the Bruins and Leafs exchanged plenty of chances in a playoff-like contest. For the most part, the officials held their whistles.
That was until late in the third period. A rather dubious call on Dominic Moore for interference – during a puck battle with Nikita Soshnikov – with under three minutes left in regulation gave the Leafs and their top-ranked power play unit a golden opportunity to take the lead.
The Leafs capitalized. Moments after another solid save by Tuukka Rask, Tyler Bozak found space in the slot and fired the puck past the Bruins netminder for the game-winner.
“I thought it was an egregious call, to be honest with you,” a frustrated Bruce Cassidy said to the press following the Bruins’ 4-2 loss at the Air Canada Centre. “Our guy driving the net and their guy is there and it happens 100 times during the course of the game.”
While the interference call was a huge turning point, the Bruins had their chances to at least notch one point out of this one, if not two. Again, they were stymied by Frederik Andersen, who improved to 8-0-0 lifetime against the Black and Gold after a solid 33-save effort.
Their second ranked penalty kill, which killed off a 5-on-3 situation late in the first period, also could have helped send the game to overtime while Moore was serving his minor penalty.
“It’s frustrating,” Brad Marchand told the media after tallying an assist on David Backes’ goal for his 80th point of the season. “You know, [the refs] let a lot go in the third, and to call that one seems a little questionable, but we still have to kill that [penalty] off. Definitely tough to lose like that while we played so hard all game – and we played a pretty good game. But that’s unfortunate.”
“We’ve got to get the job done on the penalty kill,” added Cassidy. “It’s been good for us all year, and unfortunately, we needed one more.
On to Ottawa
No matter the circumstances in a rather bizarre contest – that included a clock malfunction that lasted for two full periods – en route to the Leafs first season sweep of Bruins for the first time in 20 years, Cassidy and company need to erase this from their memory.
The Ottawa Senators, a team that has taken both meetings from the Bruins this year, await the Bruins arrival for another pivotal contest on Tuesday night at the TD Garden. Instead of pulling at least three points of the Sens for second place in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins now only have a one-point edge on the divisional rival Leafs for third place.
“Get back tomorrow and try to get the win,” Rask said about putting the Leafs loss behind them. “Can’t lose too many games in a row at this time of the seeason, so [we’ll] try to get the win tomorrow.”
Having lost two in a row for the first time in the Cassidy era, the Bruins face another battle of adversity in their biggest week of the 2016-17 regular season.