The Boston Bruins waddled through self-inflicted wounds in the opening twenty minutes of play against the Anaheim Ducks. Then they battled back from a 3-1 deficit and evened things up behind Brandon Carlo’s second-period marker and David Pastrnak’s third-period equalizer.
It seemed like the Bruins got past their turnover issues and Linus Ullmark’s struggles with rebounds. The Ducks barely established any momentum after Rickard Rackell, Isac Ludenstrom and Adam Henrique capitalized on Boston’s unforced turnovers during the opening stanza.
But, at the worst possible time, the Bruins committed their biggest mistake of the night.
A head-scratching turnover from Craig Smith on a cross-ice feed promptly led to Charlie McAvoy hooking Ryan Getzlaf in front of Ullmark. Trevor Zegras quickly took advantage of the golden opportunity, snapping home the game-winner a mere 24 seconds into McAvoy’s minor.
Here’s what we learned following the B’s frustrating 4-3 loss Tuesday night at Honda Center.
Veteran mistakes proved costly
Securing one point after trailing by two would’ve provided a decent ending in and of itself. But a desperate Anaheim bunch capitalized on its opportunities, and a red-hot Bruins squad coming off an impressive 7-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings the night before couldn’t make their come-from-behind effort worthwhile.
“They haven’t won in a while, and they’re ready to go. They probably see the score from the night before, and it gets their attention,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said to reporters. “Typically, back-to-backs, we’ve been fine. But the first period is the period you have to get through. To be perfectly honest, it’s 1-1 with a few minutes to go [in the first]. It looked like we were going to get through, even though we weren’t at our best. We gave up a few [chances] early, and then we just had some bad breakdowns. We didn’t manage pucks, we didn’t protect the front of our net, and all of the sudden, it’s 3-1.”
The turnovers and puck mismanagement didn’t come from the younger Bruins in the first and third periods. Instead, the unforced errors came from veterans like Smith, Carlo, and Derek Forbort. All three encountered their struggles over the long season, yet the Bruins rely on Carlo and Forbort for disrupting primary and secondary scoring chances in front of the Boston net.
The Bruins needed Ullmark to make some timely stops in the second half of a back-to-back. The Swede certainly encountered issues with his rebound control again on Tuesday. Yet his teammates also put him in a tough spot in the opening 20 and again during Anaheim’s pushback in the game’s final moments.
Cassidy’s squad turned out a performance worthy of at least one point. An unlikely source helped position the B’s toward that positive result.
Foligno earned himself a Gordie Howe Hat Trick
The Bruins didn’t likely envision Foligno performing at or near his prime during his days in Columbus. But they expected more production beyond the seven points he compiled through 36 games.
The dreaded duo of injuries and inconsistencies halted Foligno’s first season in Boston.
The ex-Blue Jackets captain started the year as the net-front guy on the top power-play unit and solidified a third-line role at his off-wing. He bounced around the lineup before returning to his strong-side wing on the B’s fourth line.
Coming off a string of solid efforts of late, Foligno unquestionably had one of the better outings of his 2021-22 campaign. The 34-year-old winger began his night engaging in his second fight of the season with Ducks forward Sam Carrick. He notched his second goal of the season — and first since Jan. 1 — in his very first shift out of the box and assisted on Carlo’s fifth of the season at 11:15 of the middle stanza to complete his first career Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
“To be honest with you, I think my game has been building,” Foligno said. “The role I’m in right now is obviously a little more defensive-minded and simple, so I’m trying to make sure I do that for the club. But it’s always nice to contribute. It’s something I know I can do, but I’m making sure that we’re playing winning hockey right now. It was a tough one tonight because I thought we really answered back the way we needed to in order to at least get a point.”
Foligno and company will have one goal in mind heading into Thursday’s tilt with Jack Eichel and the Vegas Golden Knights: preventing a snowball effect.
Bruins need to avoid similar fate from their last third period collapse out west
They’ve encountered a full season’s worth of ups and downs through the first two-thirds of the year. But the Bruins can look back at a recent stretch following a tough road loss in the final minutes for reference.
Although the roles were reversed, the Bruins’ last notable third-period collapse against the league-leading Colorado Avalanche resulted in a nearly month-long funk. Ironically, they salvaged a point after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period in Denver on Jan. 26.
The Bruins struggled offensively over the next three weeks, scoring 12 goals over an eight-game stretch. They managed to tally at least one point in half of those tilts yet found themselves in a tumultuous time with Brad Marchand serving a six-game suspension and Patrice Bergeron missing time because of a head laceration.
Slowly, they started to build their game back up in Ottawa for a needed win on Pastrnak’s overtime winner. They took off from there, earning four more victories along the way, including an impressive 5-1 win over the Avs on Feb. 21 and their blowout of the Kings in the third game of their current road trip.
The Bruins established good habits during the run with Swayman’s performance in net, DeBrusk’s torrid run on the top line and Marchand picking up where he left off. But they’re about to embark on a busy run, mainly playing every other night between now and April with the trade deadline sandwiched in between.
Barring a catastrophic collapse, the Bruins will embark on their sixth straight postseason trip in the spring. But they don’t want to turn this self-inflicted loss into another multi-game slump.
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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