What we learned: One streak ends, another continues
Along with an additional two points in the standings, there were a few streaks on the line in the Bruins’ 47th game of the season against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.
Get one point in that outcome and the team’s point streak (14-0-4) stretches to 19, eclipsing the previous franchise second-best run of 18 games in 1968-69. The other less noteworthy streak is a four-year drought against the Ducks, a perennial Stanley Cup contender with a seven-game win streak over Boston at 0-6-1.
The first game after the All-Star break also saw Bruce Cassidy return to tinkering with his lines, given the absence of Brad Marchand (suspended), Charlie McAvoy (injured), and Noel Acciari (also injured). Danton Heinen and his 33 points were bumped up to the top line with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak; Anders Bjork took Heinen’s slot alongside Riley Nash and David Backes, while Frank Vatrano took Acciari’s slot on the fourth line.
That tinkering will likely continue — not to mention possible trade deadline moves — with Bjork and Backes both exiting due to injury Tuesday night.
Here is what we learned as the Ducks extended their win streak over the Bruins to eight straight and simultaneously snapped Boston’s 18-game point streak.
“[The streak was] not going to go on forever,” Cassidy said after the loss. “It certainly put ourselves in a good position in the standings to get on that roll, but we’ll have to start a new one now.”
Bruins can’t buck NHL history
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no NHL team has ever taken a point out of eight straight games in which they allowed the first goal.
The most unique statistic during the Bruins streak? They gave up the first goal in their last seven games coming into Tuesday’s slate.
Ultimately, however, history remained intact. The streak extended to eight straight games when Cam Fowler flipped a knuckleball shot on Anton Khudobin, who put a glove on the rubber but failed to hold it. The rebound flopped in Khudobin’s crease, with Zdeno Chara’s backside slide helping to give Anaheim the first goal of the game — credited to Jakob Silfverberg at 9:04.
“They flipped the puck, and I didn’t know what happened afterwards. I saw the puck in the net,” Chara said of the mishap. “But, obviously, the play was driving to the net and took my feet out.”
An Adam Henrique wrister on the power play at 13:59 upped the Ducks to a 2-0 lead.
“We just didn’t have it early,” Cassidy said postgame. “I don’t know if it’s credit to them [the Ducks], or just our guys, or the break. Whatever the case was, [it] wasn’t good enough. I don’t think they were dynamic by any means, but they were better than us.”
Henrique’s second, an empty-netter, came with seven ticks left to seal Anaheim’s victory.
Seconds before Henrique’s empty-netter, Ryan Spooner celebrated his 26th birthday with a seeing-eye goal at 19:18, his eighth of the season, to break the shutout and give the TD Garden crowd some optimism. Torey Krug and David Pastrnak assisted.
In the absence of Marchand and McAvoy, however, the Bruins went 0-for-4 on the power play.
“Doby” duty keeps pace but doesn’t pay off
Khudobin, a former Duck and 10-2-4 this season, got the nod in goal. He kept pace, but didn’t get much help from his teammates as the Ducks outshot the Bruins 15-5 through the opening 20 minutes.
“He would be the first to tell you, he just kind of whiffed on [the first goal],” Cassidy said of his goaltender’s performance. “The other one was a good shot. He was like the rest of our team in the first period – not very good. I can’t sugarcoat it.”
The Bruins worked their way back into the shot count with a 13-4 edge in the second period, but could not dent Ducks netminder John Gibson. He would be replaced by Ryan Miller with eight minutes left in the game, after taking a hard shot from Patrice Bergeron early in the final frame.
The Bruins had their chances in the last 20 — most notably opportunities for Heinen and Krug — while Khudobin made two sparkling saves toward the beginning of the period to keep the game within reach.
“Heinen late in the slot. Torey Krug down main street,” Cassidy recalled of the two biggest chances. “That was a big save down 2-0, but at the end of the day, they were a little better than us in that area.”
“Like I said,” Bergeron added, “you have to learn that you have to play 60 minutes in this league.”
Injuries mounting once again?
Bjork exited just eight minutes into the game with an upper-body injury, compliments of a stand-up soft shoulder check by Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin. Then, with five minutes left in the third, Backes headed to the locker room after a high shoulder hit by Ducks forward Nick Ritchie. Neither incident drew a penalty.
“Bjork is upper body,” Cassidy offered. “Backes, I think he’s fine, but I don’t know. Bjork, definitely upper body, and he’ll miss some time. I don’t know how much. The Bjork didn’t seem like much. Very surprised on the [Backes] one. It was late. I can’t tell if it was high, but certainly late.”