The Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators filled the highlight reels with 12 combined goals Tuesday night. But neither team will want to relive the plethora of defensive miscues and shaky goaltending in their respective film sessions.
Jeremy Swayman hardly looked sharp in one of the worst outings of his young career, stopping 19 of 25 shots in 40 minutes of work.
On most nights, the Bruins likely would’ve called it a night. But they gave themselves a chance after evening things up following an early 3-0 deficit on tallies from Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and A.J. Greer within a 4:30 timespan between the late first and early second periods.
The Bruins nearly bounced back from another three-goal deficit, with Nick Foligno and David Pastrnak scoring 1:50 apart to cut Ottawa’s lead to 6-5 late in the middle stanza.
Eventually, fatigue settled in. And the Bruins found themselves trailing by two midway through the third after Sens defenseman Artem Zub converted on his own rebound.
The Bruins displayed enough firepower to bounce back. But they couldn’t overcome their self-inflicted wounds, allowing a plethora of goals within a short time span on a couple of occasions.
Claude Giroux and Brady Tkachuk scored a mere 2:05 apart to give the Sens a quick 2-0 cushion 3:09 in. Drake Batherson padded the lead to 3-0, firing his first of the season past Swayman with no Bruin in sight in the slot.
Swayman’s rough outing continued in the second. But the D in front of him hardly gave him breathing room, allowing a handful of odd-man rushes following blocked shots in the attacking end and falling victim to puck-watching in the defensive end allowing the Sens plenty of time and space to work with.
Eventually, the Sens pulled ahead for good behind their next trio of goals from Shane Pinto, Tim Stutzle and Mark Kastelic 4:32 apart for the 6-3 advantage late in the second.
The Bruins scored five goals for the fourth straight game. But it wasn’t enough this time, as they dropped their first decision of the Jim Montgomery era and subsequently handed the Senators their first win of the season.
“Our checking was atrocious. We weren’t coming back hard enough,” Montgomery told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley following Boston’s 7-5 loss. “We left our goalie out to dry. We didn’t protect the net front.”
Here’s what we learned following Tuesday’s wild Bruins-Sens tilt in the Canadian capital.
Swayman took the heat in stride
Goalies league-wide have seemingly started the season in catchup mode, given the early season scoring uptick. On Tuesday, Swayman became the latest victim of that trend.
Fresh off a solid but not overly spectacular season debut against the Coyotes on Saturday, Swayman encountered a less-than-pedestrian outing in his second start of the season.
He hardly received any help, either. The shorthanded Boston D hung Swayman out to dry on more than one occasion, allowing their share of odd-man rushes and quality scoring chances in front of the crease. But Swayman couldn’t bail them out with a timely save and encountered his issues tracking pucks and controlling rebounds.
The Bruins were still within striking distance at the end of the second period. They tabbed Linus Ullmark for relief duty in the third period.
Following the disappointing outing, Swayman’s character shined again during his postgame interview in the visiting dressing room.
Given the busy slate ahead, Swayman won’t have long to dwell on arguably the worst outing of his career. Perhaps Swayman will get his chance at redemption as early as Thursday against Trevor Zegras and the Anaheim Ducks.
Offensive explosion couldn’t make up for defensive mishaps
Any game resembling pond hockey will never be short of entertainment. But oftentimes, the back-and-forth play comes at the expense of defensive fundamentals.
Boston’s scoring depth showcased itself again with another night of production from all four lines. Bergeron continued his ascent up the franchise’s scoring ranks after surpassing Rick Middleton for third on the team’s all-time goal-scoring list. Pastrnak further cemented his case for a big payday following his three-point outing.
None of Boston’s blue-liners tallied a single point on Tuesday. But they hardly hesitated to move pucks quickly in transition. Nor did they shy away from pinching along the walls to continue their attacking zone cycles.
But in an attempt to take another stride in Montgomery’s up-tempo system, the Bruins became vulnerable on the back end. Without Charlie McAvoy or Matt Grzelcyk’s keen puck-moving traits to back them up, Montgomery and company found themselves in chase mode throughout Tuesday’s outing.
The Bruins have ‘a lot of tiger’ right now
Tuesday had all the markings of a letdown.
The Bruins took to the ice for their first three-game-in-four-day stretch of the 2022-23 campaign. They trailed for the first time all season just 64 ticks in after Giroux notched his second tally in a Sens sweater. Heck, they trailed by three goals, not just once, but twice.
But in the fourth game under Montgomery, the tight-knit Bruins kept fighting. They counterpunched their way to a 3-3 game early in the second period and nearly evened things up again following a handful of third-period scoring chances before Zub’s dagger.
Their resilient effort didn’t end with the desired outcome. But the Bruins showed their stripes without three of their top blue-liners (McAvoy, Grzelcyk, and Brandon Carlo) and their top-line left winger (Brad Marchand).
“Well, we were in a three-in-four, and we were resilient. We never stopped playing,” Montgomery told NESN. “There’s no quit in that dressing room. It’s a fun group to work with because they’re always trying to do their best and move forward as a group. To me, we’ll get better at checking; I have no worries about that. But you can’t put the fight in the tiger, and we’ve got a lot of tiger in us right now.”
The tiger and the resiliency in the Bruins provide an encouraging early-season development. Sustaining that snarl within an 82-game season isn’t easy.
Even on an off night, Tuesday proved that they’ll hardly be an easy out for any opponent
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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