The Boston Bruins recently went through one of their better runs of the season, notching five consecutive wins, including a pair against two of the top squads in the Western Conference — the Jets and Avalanche.
Jim Montgomery’s club came into Wednesday’s tilt with the Hurricanes after outchecking Winnipeg en route to a 4-1 victory two nights prior. Boston’s four-spot snapped the Jets’ run of 34 straight games of allowing three or fewer goals in regulation.
The Bruins couldn’t build off that impressive triumph against Connor Hellebuyck and company. After a relatively even first 20 minutes, Boston hardly looked in sync during the middle 20 against Carolina, one of their few Achilles’ heels over the past few seasons.
Martin Necas cleanly beat a screened Linus Ullmark to give the Hurricanes the 1-0 lead with 1:56 remaining in the opening frame.
Despite a relatively even pace to the first period, the Bruins came out flat in one of their worst 20-minute stretches of play as of late. Carolina’s third-ranked power play cashed in with its second tally as Teuvo Teravainen collected a loose puck in the slot at 11:10 of the middle stanza.
Montgomery changed his lineup ahead of the third. The Bruins regrouped to tie things up at 2-2 as Brad Marchand scored his 21st and 22nd goals of the season just 5:50 apart.
The Bruins had a golden opportunity to net their first lead of the night on their fourth power play attempt. They failed to capitalize despite a handful of chances and a bevy of missed infractions during that two-minute sequence.
Jordan Martinook delivered the dagger on a breakaway with 2:27 left in regulation after Linus Ullmark could only get a piece of the puck with his glove hand.
Here’s what we learned as Carolina snapped Boston’s five-game win streak with its 3-2 victory.
The Bruins committed game mismanagement on Martinook’s game-winner.
The Bruins struggled to generate much traffic in front of Spencer Martin in the first 40 minutes. In the opening 20, however, they engaged in a tight-checking pace with the Hurricanes before Necas drew first blood.
By the third, they faced a 2-0 deficit and an uphill climb. Marchand put them within striking distance of an unlikely two points during a spirited third period.
But one last ill-timed mistake did the Bruins in.
“First period was a really fast game. Second period, they outcompeted us. Third period, I thought we showed great desperation with second and third effort(s),” Montgomery said. “But the game management at the end of the game was not good. That’s what cost us the game.”
The sequence Montgomery alluded to began when Hampus Lindholm got caught pinching in the attacking end, hoping to maintain possession following a shot on goal. Within seconds, the Canes turned a potential 2-on-1 attempt against Brandon Carlo into a breakaway for Martinook, who promptly put his team ahead for good.
“The defenseman should not be pinching in,” Montgomery said of Martinook’s go-ahead tally. “It’s 2-2. There’s a shot on net. We need to make sure we keep people in front of us. It looked like a 2-on-1, and then it became a breakaway.”
The Bruins got caught flatfooted on Martinook’s winner. They also didn’t have an answer for Carolina’s potent man advantage and shorthanded units.
Carolina’s special teams outshine Boston’s power play and penalty kill.
Boston’s upper-tier penalty kill seemed to have gotten a boost when Carlo and Derek Forbort returned to the lineup. Instead, they encountered another set of hiccups.
Carolina’s speed and quickness overwhelmed Boston’s seventh-ranked shorthanded unit. The Bruins struggled to provide Ullmark relief, failing to clear their defensive end on multiple attempts against the Hurricanes’ high-end talent.
While they didn’t get the benefit of the doubt from some of the calls or non-calls, the Bruins didn’t help their cause on the kill. The high-danger chances began piling up, and eventually, the Canes pounced behind Necas’ snipe and Teravinen’s net-front tally.
“We knew they had one of the best power plays in the league. We took too many stick penalties,” Marchand said. “That hurt us. When you [give up] two of three, it’s tough to compete with a team like that.”
Conversely, the Bruins went 0-for-4 with the man advantage. They didn’t showcase urgency until their final attempt in the third in a 2-2 game.
Trent Frederic made his presence known upon third-period promotion.
Through the first half of the season, Montgomery mixed and matched his four forward trios as the Bruins began their transition from the post-David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron era. He hardly had to move pieces around during their recent five-game win streak.
Carolina’s relentless forecheck and defensive structure kept hemming Montgomery’s bunch, prompting the second-year Boston bench boss to desperately search for a spark entering the third. Frederic stood out as one of the few noticable skaters during his first two periods in a third-line role.
As Frederic’s scoring production finally began to compliment his blue-collar traits, Montgomery rewarded his bottom-six cog with a promotion for the final 20, skating alongside Marchand and Charlie Coyle as one-half of Boston’s top-six.
Frederic’s assertiveness complimented Coyle and Marchand. He notched his first assist winning a puck battle along the walls to set up Marchand at the goal-line and followed that up with a secondary helper in transition for the equalizer.
“He’s been phenomenal this year. He’s taken another big step,” Marchand said of Frederic. “Just the way he’s competing, the way he’s moving his feet and how he’s holding onto pucks…you’re seeing his confidence go up. He’s seeing the ice really well, and he’s not scared to hold on [to the puck] to make an extra play. So it’s good to see him get rewarded.”
Frederic, a 2016 first-round selection, carved out a third-line role with his energy, emotion and physical presence. His increased scoring presence provided a welcoming development and helped the Bruins exceed some expectations from some of the pundits’ preseason prognostications.
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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