It was the worst of times. It was the best of times. And then it was the worst of times again.
Bruce Cassidy’s side jumped out to an early 1-0 after Patrice Bergeron netted his fourth shorthanded goal of the season at the four-minute mark of the opening period.
It went downhill from there. The Blue Jackets netted five unanswered goals spanning the first and second periods.
Somehow, the Bruins persevered and scored three unanswered goals to head to the third period down by one. But their comeback effort fell short on this night. Zach Werenski scored a power play tally late in the third and Boone Jenner capped off his first career hat trick with an empty netter in the final minute to seal the Columbus victory.
“We made it a game going into the third period, down a goal, that’s going to happen a lot on the road,” Cassidy told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley following Boston’s 7-4 loss. “Obviously we didn’t like how we ended up there, but the bottom line was we gave ourselves a chance to win the game by coming back.”
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins suffered their second straight regulation loss for the first time since December.
You don’t win too many hockey games giving up seven goals.
Tuukka Rask — previously 16-0-3 in his last 20 starts — didn’t have his finest outing. Cassidy pulled the Finn after Jenner notched his second of the game at the 8:09 mark of the second period.
Rask was far from the only problem for Boston Tuesday night. The Bruins failed to layer up and defensively and found themselves watching the puck all too often. Three of Columbus’s goals were a result of Boston’s defense getting sucked in behind the net and letting the Blue Jackets tee up one-timers in prime scoring areas in front of Rask.
The Bruins blueliners couldn’t slow down the speedy Blue Jackets all night. Columbus’ puck pursuit and quickness got them in front early and also helped them hold off Boston’s comeback bid.
Boston’s defense has anchored the team’s success. Yet, they’ve surrendered 11 goals in the last two games.
“Obviously there’s some D-zone coverage down around our net we have to discuss,” Cassidy added. “We just gave up some easy goals, missed assignments. We had some passengers tonight that just didn’t want to play hard enough against a desperate team.”
The Bruins need to solve their latest defensive woes quickly. Their schedule doesn’t get easier this week as they travel to Winnipeg on Thursday before returning home to face the Blue Jackets again on Saturday.
The heart and resiliency from this Bruins team showcased last week was nothing short of extraordinary. Even in its last two losses, Boston never quit and gave themselves a chance to win.
It doesn’t matter the deficit. The Bruins will fight to the bitter end.
Cassidy’s squad could have easily mailed it in on the road when Columbus took a commanding 5-1 lead. But, once again, they battled back.
Brad Marchand led the way with a pair of tallies, while Walpole’s own Chris Wagner netted his third goal in the past five games. Charlie McAvoy also showed some heart when he took on Artemi Panarin in an exchange of blows that ultimately sparked Boston’s comeback bid.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 13, 2019
They came up short this time around, but the Bruins can take some lessons from this. Those teaching moments could come in handy come playoff time.
That's 30 goals for @Bmarch63.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 13, 2019
Scoring 30 goals over the course of an NHL season is hard. Doing it in four consecutive seasons is even harder.
Yet, Marchand makes that feat look easy.
The veteran winger netted his 29th and 30th goals of the season, putting him in pretty rare company. Marchand joined Phil Esposito, Rick Middleton, Peter McNab, Johhny Buyck and Cam Neely as the sixth player in Bruins history to record 30 goals in four straights seasons.
Some of Marchand’s opponents might not appreciate his antics on and off the ice. But there is no denying that Marchand is one of the league’s premier talents.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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