TEMPE, Ariz. — For the second straight night, the Boston Bruins encountered a shorthanded stretch in the third period.
And for the second straight night, the Bruins forced overtime after overcoming a third-period deficit.
But once again, they fell one point short.
Nearly 24 hours removed from losing Brandon Carlo in the second period of their 4-3 shootout loss to the Avalanche, the Bruins faced another come-from-behind moment when Coyotes forward Matias Macelli converted on a rebound from Lawson Crouse’s breakaway attempt just 52 seconds into the final frame.
Moments later, Jim Montgomery had to shorten his bench after Matthew Poitras succumbed to an upper-body injury following a collision with Macelli.
Jake DeBrusk’s power-play equalizer at 5:04 of the third gave the Bruins some life. Montgomery’s bunch promptly turned that into their best stretch of the night as Linus Ullmark and Connor Ingram traded multiple pivotal stops with one another over the final 14:56 of regulation.
The Bruins encountered more scoring chances in overtime, with David Pastrnak failing to convert on a pair of breakaway bids. Yet, they faced another obstacle between Pastrnak’s breakaway attempts as Ullmark exited at the worst time possible to a lower-body injury.
With Jeremy Swayman forced into action under less-than-ideal circumstances, the Coyotes withstood Boston’s final overtime bids to secure their 4-3 win after Nick Schmaltz’s shot banked off the right iron and into the back of the net.
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s second straight extra session setback.
Pastrnak felt “a little guilty” amid OT events.
During the 4:04 of Tuesday’s 3-on-3 overtime, the Bruins and Coyotes accounted for seven shot attempts as both teams landed two pucks on net. Amid a sequence of scoring chances and zone resets, the Bruins earned two bids on high-danger scoring chances, both on Pastrnak’s breakaways.
Another timely stop from Ingram prevented Pastrnak on his first go around. Pastrnak’s second breakaway attempt also went for naught shortly after Ullmark’s exit.
“I feel a little guilty, you know. I had two breakaways to end the game there for our team,” Pastrnak said of his overtime attempts. “Obviously, it’s hard for a goaltender to sit behind the bench for three hours and to come in after an unfortunate injury.”
After repeatedly watching the fourth-year goalie bail his team out of danger, Swayman’s teammates tried to provide as much support as possible. Securing a game-winner within Swayman’s 1:24 time on ice was really the only thing they could’ve done to alleviate their fourth-year netminder.
Ultimately, Schmaltz made himself available for Clayton Keller to cap off the game-winner on the only shot Swayman faced.
“Of course, it’s not an ideal situation, but we’re confident in our group of whoever is going to be in there,” forward Charlie Coyle said. “We have all the confidence in Sway coming in. You know, you don’t want to see that stuff happen. It’s tough for a goalie to come in cold, but we’re capable of doing that no matter who’s coming in and what the circumstance is. Whatever the hand you’re dealt, you have to play with and make the most of it.”
In reality, the Bruins could have dealt themselves a better hand over the first 40 minutes.
Boston’s slow starts are becoming more noticeable.
More often than not, every team showcases vulnerability during the latter half of back-to-back tilts. Teams become more prone to mistakes following each shift, thus emphasizing the importance of an on-time arrival.
That sentiment holds true, especially after a slow start from the night before. Frankly, the Bruins remained fortunate to stay within striking distance against a pair of offensively skilled squads in the Avalanche and Coyotes.
Boston’s puck management and decision-making improved enough during the final 20 minutes in Denver, allowing them to persevere and secure a point. Against the Coyotes, the Bruins jumped out to a 1-0 lead 4:41 in on Pastrnak’s 25th of the season.
Pastrnak’s power-play snipe and a 12-for-17 start from the faceoff dot marked the lone positive developments from the opening frame. The Bruins failed to build on their early cushion as Arizona pushed back with an aggressive forechecking structure, resulting in a 22-12 advantage in shot attempts, a 13-5 cushion in shots on net and a 12-2 edge in high danger scoring chances in over 17 minutes of 5v5 first-period play.
“Arizona is a good hockey team. They’re well coached; they play with great pace. They’re really good at home. Their record at home is well above .500. It’s a tough environment, and they play well here,” Montgomery noted.
“That being said, we didn’t start on time. That’s what we needed to do… better focus, more sharper. We didn’t have the puck support we needed, and we didn’t move pucks quickly enough.”
The Coyotes never wavered from their formula, cashing in early after Clayton Keller crashed the net and buried his own rebound for his 14th of season.
Jesper Boqvist responded to showcase his quick release for his first goal as a Bruin. But Boston’s defensive breakdowns, turnovers, and transitional struggles remained.
With 3:30 left in the middle stanza, Dylan Gunther notched Arizona’s second equalizer after sniping a shot from the slot past Ullmark for his second goal of the season.
“It’s not the way we wanted to start things,” Coyle said. “It kind of took us a little bit to get our legs going.”
Another late arrival resulted in Montgomery’s latest set of changes, this time involving Boston’s top-six. Within the opening seconds of the third, the Bruins found themselves in catchup mode.
Boston only trailed for 5:02 before DeBrusk responded to Maccelli’s marker with his power play snap shot. But as much as they relied on their recent third-period success — particularly during shutdown mode — the Bruins need to rectify their troubling developments from their late arrivals against the Avs and Yotes.
“We pride ourselves on being a great third-period team,” Coyle added. “But you got to bring it right from puck drop, especially against a team who can make you pay, plays quick. They have good skill over there and they can make you pay if you’re not ready to go on time. So, yeah, it wasn’t good on our part.”
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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