The Boston Bruins rarely had any defensive issues leading into Thursday’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. But the costly defensive lapses in were front and center during their 4-3 shootout loss to the highly talented Bolts.
While the well-oiled Boston power play cashed in early thanks to David Pastrnak, the Lightning tied things up at 1-1 with just 0.8 ticks left in the opening stanza. The first of a couple of defensive breakdowns, Brayden Point sliced through Boston’s top defensive pairing in Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy and potted home his third goal of the season.
Patrice Bergeron put the Bruins ahead again with his power play tally at 7:26 of the second period. But Boston’s defensive struggles carried over as Mathieu Joseph tied things up just 3:03 after Bergeron’s second of the season.
Chara, McAvoy and Torey Krug all had an off night. All three Lightning goals came with any combination of those three players on the ice — with two coming against the Chara-McAvoy pairing. They finished the evening with a combined minus-six rating.
Kevin Shattenkirk gave the Bolts a 3-2 late in the third period as Chara and McAvoy were caught napping again.
David Pastrnak evened things up with his second power play tally of the night to force overtime, before falling short in the shootout. The Bruins at least came away with one point, but the costly defensive breakdowns against the high-octane Lightning prevented them from nabbing that second point.
“Right now, our team IQ is a little bit low,” Krug said when asked about Tampa Bay’s game-tying goal. “We need to find a way to be a little smarter.”
Krug also noted that a lack of structure and a bit of sloppiness in the defensive zone are a good recipe for your opponent putting one in the back of the net.
“When you’re sloppy and a little bit loose, pucks end up in the back of your net and you play good teams who are going to make you pay for it,” Krug added. “So, right now we’re lucky that we have the power play rolling and they can kind of bail us out sometimes. We need to pay a little bit more attention to detail.”
While the Bruins, without a doubt need to tighten up defensively, they’ll be facing a Toronto Maple Leafs’ team on Saturday who constantly struggles on the back end.
This wasn’t a norm for the Bruins. They’re usually stout on the blue line night in and night out. Thursday just happened to be an off-night for the guys manning the defensive zone.
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