The Boston Bruins did everything right by the book. They played a good 200-foot game and generated a few fortunate bounces on Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick.
They didn’t get the result, however.
The Bruins couldn’t finish against a hot netminder in Quick, who made 36 saves on the night. They broke down in the final two minutes — after not allowing a single shot on net in a 10-minute stretch during the third — and couldn’t capitalize on a couple of breakaways in the 3-on-3 overtime.
The opportunistic Kings pounced on a Black and Gold squad that couldn’t quite finish the job. Matt Roy’s shot through traffic from the point tied things up with 2:01 left in regulation and perennial Selke Trophy finalist Anze Kopitar netted the game-winner shortly after Patrice Bergeron missed wide on a breakaway during the extra session.
“Listen, there’s eighty-two of these, I thought we certainly played well enough to win,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following the 4-3 OT loss. “[We’re] not very happy getting only one point tonight. In terms of how we played the game — the process part of it — there were better things than, say, two weeks ago.”
Yes, the Bruins looked a little better than they did during their season-long five-game skid, but they still have plenty of areas to work on. Here’s what we learned after the Black and Gold had to settle with one point against a Kings squad that sits second to last in the Pacific Division.
The Bruins needed a timely save from Tuukka Rask
One goalie played up to his last name. The other couldn’t make the timely save to secure a victory.
The Bruins surrounded Rask with layers for a good chunk of Tuesday’s contest. They came back to tie things up twice — on tallies from Danton Heinen and Bergeron in the first two periods — and took a 3-2 lead early in the third on Brandon Carlo’s third of the season.
Rask’s teammates had numerous chances to distance themselves against a hot, but still rebuilding Kings bunch. They didn’t. Instead, they needed Rask to finish the job.
Rask admittingly could’ve made a timely save or two in the final moments of the third period and overtime. He had to fight off traffic on Roy’s fighting tally late in regulation and then got flat out beat by Kopitar in OT.
The winningest goalie in franchise history stood up in front of his stall during his traditional postgame media session. Rask directed responsibility at himself as he took questions ranging from the goals he allowed to missed scoring chances.
“You’re out there and you hope you make those timely saves,” Rask said following his 23-save outing. “And tonight I didn’t make any.”
Rask hasn’t won since Dec. 1. He sports a .878 save percentage, a 3.39 goals-against average and an 0-2-2 mark in his last four games.
The Finn will start in two of Boston’s next three games. He could certainly use another victory as an early Christmas gift.
Overtime, in general, hasn’t been too kind to the Bruins
The Bruins embarked in their first overtime session in 12 days after Roy evened things up. Quite frankly, the time between their OT loss to the Blackhawks and Tuesday’s setback to the Kings seemed shorter.
Cassidy’s squad fell to 2-7 in the extra session following Tuesday’s defeat in a game they certainly could’ve closed out in regulation. This also includes an 0-4 mark in the shootout, something the Bruins haven’t encountered since mid-November.
They have the weapons to close things out in the extra session. Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy each provide an up-tempo push on the back end needed for 3-on-3 play. David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Bergeron are all threats to deliver in the clutch. Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, Anders Bjork and others give the Bruins some well-rounded depth up front during the five-minute OT.
The Bruins and Kings traded chances in the extra session. McAvoy displayed exceptional awareness on both ends of the ice early. Bergeron and Bjork each had breakaway attempts but missed. Kopitar, however, made sure the game didn’t go any further to close out Boston’s frustrating loss.
“It was a good effort,” Bergeron said following his first game at TD Garden since Nov. 23. “That being said, you want results. You want to close out games, and its a big point that we let slip by.”
Bergeron and company let a few of those points get away from them during certain stretches of the season. Boston still sits comfortably atop the Atlantic Division, but these overtime and shootout losses may come back to haunt them at least in the race with Washington for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tyler Toffoli would look good in black and gold
Toffoli’s night didn’t really stand out aside from his secondary assist on Blake Lizotte’s power-play tally in the first period. LA’s 2010 second-round selection fired two shots on goal in 15:21 of ice time.
Still, Toffoli extended his point streak to five straight games with that assist. The Bruins would welcome that production in the middle of their lineup.
Heinen and Carlo both provided secondary scoring. But Cassidy, again, switched things up with both his forward lines and d-pairings against a physical LA side. Of course, the fourth-year Boston bench boss isn’t shy with changing things up at a moment’s notice, and he’d do the same if the Bruins acquired Toffoli.
The Bruins hardly have reliable options from within to stop the rotating door on the second line. The recently waived Ilya Kovalchuk isn’t an answer to close that door either.
Yes, Don Sweeney would have to part with some valuable assets to acquire Toffoli — an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year — in time for another potential playoff run. His track record as a 20-30 goal scorer and a proven postseason performer provides an ideal fit to skate with Krejci and DeBrusk, though Sweeney would have to move some salary to acquire Toffoli and his $4.6 million cap space.
Toffoli’s name sits atop the top commodities of the upcoming trade deadline, especially following Arizona’s recent acquisition of Taylor Hall. Of course, there’s a risk involved with a potential rental, but the Marcus Johansson trade last year proved that short-term options aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Toffoli’s experience and pedigree would be worth the risk for any rumored club that’s interested in his services.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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