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  • Another relinquished lead and other Bruins-Wild takeaways

    Tim Rosenthal December 20, 2023

    For two teams who only meet twice per season, the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild seemingly bring out another side in one another.

    That trend continued Tuesday night during the B’s final pre-holiday home tilt at TD Garden.  

    Following another slow start, Jakub Lauko provided the Bruins with a needed spark. On the ensuing shift from Marcus Johansson’s power play marker, Lauko promptly challenged Connor Dewar, landing a few stiff blows in a scrap between the two fourth-line forwards.

    Fellow countryman David Pastrnak picked up where Lauko left off, notching a pair in the opening 20 minutes, including a buzzer-beater, to pace Boston’s scoring production.

    The Bruins had multiple chances to extend their 2-1 cushion throughout the second 20 and into the third. Playing their second game in as many nights, the Wild remained within striking distance behind Marc-Andre Fleury and his plethora of saves on multiple Boston high-danger scoring chances.

    Another failure to extend a lead doomed the Bruins in the third. Kirill Kaprizov and Ryan Hartman scored just 1:50 apart to put the Wild, playing their second game in as many nights, ahead 3-2 with 4:50 left in regulation.

    The Bruins relinquished a third-period lead for the sixth time this season. But they kept pushing and eventually broke Fleury’s streak of 33 consecutive saves late in regulation. 

    Amid a sea of humanity, Brad Marchand found a loose puck to beat Fleury on a 6-on-4 power play with 1:06 remaining.

    Boston persevered to its fourth straight overtime game. But the Wild took advantage of one last bounce, as Kaprizov converted on a 3-on-1 on the heels of Jake DeBrusk’s missed attempt down the other end of the ice to complete Minnesota’s 4-3 victory.

    Here’s what we learned from Boston’s second straight OT setback on Garden ice.

    Montgomery questioned DeBrusk’s shot selection in overtime.

    The Bruins didn’t exactly have the Wild on the ropes after Marchand salvaged a point. But, like their bids for insurance markers, they had a chance to secure their 20th win of the season.

    But with the game on their stick, a trio of DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle and Matt Grzelcyk collectively committed mistakes during Boston’s final rush of the extra session. The sequence began with DeBrusk completely missing the net, leading to the Wild gaining possession on a counterattack. With Coyle and DeBrusk crashing the net, Grzelcyk had to fend for himself against Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson-Ek and Brock Faber.

    “Gotta get that on net,” Montgomery said of Boston’s last OT possession. “I don’t like the shot selection, and I don’t like both guys going to the net and going all the way to the goal line. That’s what gives up the 3-on-1 the other way.”

    The Bruins dropped to 2-5 in 3-on-3 overtime this season. All their losses came after they surrendered a third-period lead.

    Offensive urgency and defensive breakdowns highlight the latest third-period collapse.

    Through two periods, the Bruins kept the Wild in check. In the third, the desperate Wild kept pushing, and the Bruins gave up too much space in the slot, leading to primary and secondary opportunities.

    Between the lengthy shifts in the defensive end and a failure to clear the puck, the Wild eventually pounced on Boston’s mishaps. The Bruins went from the driver’s seat to catch-up mode late in the third after Kaprizov buried a rebound off the post past Ullmark and Hartman’s go-ahead net-front tally.

    “I don’t like the plays to the slot that we’re giving up, and I don’t like the rebound chances that we’re giving up. It’s areas that we’ve got to clean up,” Montgomery said. “I liked the way we responded and I liked our compete level. Our execution, offensively and defensively, needs to get better, but I think everybody is saying that this time of year.”

    The Bruins had their chances during this — pardon the pun — Wild contest. They could’ve used some secondary scoring to alleviate some of the burden from the top weapons like Pastrnak, especially after heavily outplaying Minnesota during the middle 20.

    Boston’s failure to provide insurance from its 43-shot outing gave Minnesota hope. In the process, the opportunistic Wild rallied around Fleury’s trip to the fountain of youth.

    “This is the best league in the world. You have good goaltenders, especially a guy like Fleury,” Pastrnak said. “He made helluva [a lot of] saves and kept them in the game. I could’ve ended the game a couple of times and didn’t. Credit to them, but this is a game that we definitely should’ve won. It’s a tough loss for us.”

    Lauko was a house of fire.


    Lauko escaped a potentially fatal blow after taking a skate up high in Chicago a couple of months ago. He made a relatively speedy recovery, returning to Boston’s bottom-six within a few weeks, sporting a new neck guard and a full face shield following a similar event involving former NHLer Adam Johnson overseas that tragically ended his life.

    Lauko returned to fourth-line duty 18 days later. He kept the neck guard on but ditched the full face shield shortly after reappearing in Boston’s lineup.

    After getting the go-ahead to resume fighting activity from the coaching staff, Lauko picked Tuesday for his first bout since injury. On the ensuing faceoff following Johansson’s tally, the Czech sparkplug promptly delivered a few solid haymakers and a takedown in his fight with Dewar.

    Following a flat start, the Bruins immediately received a boost, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead from Pastrnak’s pair.

    “It was great. It got us into it, and I felt we picked up our intensity after that because they had just scored,” Montgomery said of Lauko’s fight. “I thought we were a little flat, so it picked us up.”

    Lauko nearly picked the Bruins up again shortly after exiting the box.

    Boston’s fourth line hemmed Minnesota deep during one of their multiple productive shifts. Amid that shift, an assertive Lauko had plenty of space from behind the net to make a play. He decided to attempt that lacrosse-style goal made famous by Mike Legg nearly three decades ago at the University of Michigan, missing by mere inches of delivering a highlight-reel marker.

    Lauko admitted he had worked on ‘the Michigan’ during his off-season training. The opportunity to put that into action presented itself Tuesday amid Boston’s flurry of chances against the Wild.

    “It’s not a hard thing when you know how to do it, but you have to find a good opportunity to do it,” Lauko said. “It was a good opportunity for doing it this time, but unfortunately, it didn’t go in.”

    Perhaps Lauko will get another chance to pull off that trick as the Bruins look to tighten their performance in crunch time.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    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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