The Boston Bruins’ historic home-ice run – a stretch that featured a handful of magical third-period comebacks – finally met its end at the hands of the streaking Seattle Kraken.
In their first indoor home matchup of 2023, the Black and Gold couldn’t solve Martin Jones. The Kraken netminder, mainly known in Boston as the middleman between Milan Lucic and Sean Kuraly from Don Sweeney’s sequence of trades in the 2015 off-season, can now wear the badge of honor as the first goalie to shut out the 2022-23 Bruins.
Brandon Tanev opened the scoring with a bad-angle tip at 7:14 of a slow first period for the Bruins.
Despite Linus Ullmark’s best efforts, the opportunistic Kraken capitalized on a pair of impressive plays that beat the Bruins’ rock between the pipes.
“They were in the right spots and went the other way on us,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said.
Despite Ullmark’s outstanding play and a late second-period push, the Bruins saw their deficit double with only 39 seconds remaining in the middle frame.
Eeli Tolvanen’s in-and-out shot silenced a raucous Causeway St. crowd that gained significant energy during Boston’s push for the equalizer just moments before. The Bruins came up short once more in the dwindling minutes in the third as their magical streak finally reached its conclusion.
Here’s what we learned after the Bruins’ 3-0 loss to the red-hot Kraken at TD Garden.
A historic home-ice point streak comes to an end
It was bound to happen at some point.
The Bruins’ record-setting point streak on home ice finally met its maker. With their stellar home-ice play down the stretch and in the postseason last year, Thursday’s loss marked Boston’s first regulation loss since April 14 — a span of 29 games.
“Yeah, [the streak had to end at some point,]” Ullmark said. “Unfortunately, it was today.”
After stringing together a solid start in each of their three games out in California, the Bruins mostly struggled to find their 200-foot rhythm in their first home tilt since the Winter Classic. The Kraken, now winners of seven in a row, used their team structure to earn national bragging rights.
“I think their speed defensively gave us a lot of problems,” Montgomery said. “On the forecheck, in the neutral zone, especially in the d-zone.”
The Bruins were mentally fatigued in return from California
Fresh off a four-game road trip earlier this season, the Bruins struggled to find their legs in a Nov. 7 matchup against the St. Louis Blues. This common occurrence struck the Bruins Thursday night as they took the ice after a four-day layoff that followed their California road trip.
Boston struggled to find an offensive rhythm throughout the contest. Jones stood tall in the rare moments where the Bruins generated quality scoring chances toward the end of the second and third periods.
“The mental fatigue, we were just a little bit lazy with our offense,” Montgomery said after watching his team land 27 shots on net. “We were kind of one-and-done in the offensive zone, and I think that was a credit to how fast they played defensively…mental fatigue, not physical.”
The Bruins vow to address the “one-and-done” offense at Friday’s practice. This development comes from the residual effects of Jake DeBrusk’s absence.
And they’ll need a quick fix with the Toronto Maple Leafs coming to town on Saturday night.
“We make a lot of plays throughout the year, and we weren’t seeing those plays,” Montgomery said. “We were not a second, but two seconds late. And then we were trying to force the plays, which led to a lot of turnovers and them being able to transition on us.”
Koppanen makes NHL debut
With Tomas Nosek fighting an upper-body injury of late, the Bruins brought up an insurance policy ahead of Thursday’s matchup.
Nosek didn’t miss any time, but his lingering injury prevented him from taking faceoffs and performing other duties associated with the centerman role. As a result, Montgomery moved Nosek to wing and opened up a spot for Joona Koppanen.
The 24-year-old forward has put forth a productive season in AHL Providence. Koppanen’s size, as well as his keen faceoff abilities, allowed him to take a spot in between Nosek and Nick Foligno on Boston’s fourth line.
“He’s had a really good year in Providence,” Montgomery said prior to Thursday’s game. “We don’t have a left-shot center right now that can win draws.”
Koppanen won 71.4 percent of faceoffs and contributed two hits and one shot with a minus-one rating in 8:50 of ice time.
“It was an awesome experience, of course. Been working hard for many years now and so, kind of like a dream come true,” Koppanen said following his first career NHL game. “It would be nice to win of course, but a game is still a game, so it’s nice to get that in.”
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