When 51 shots are not enough
In Pittsburgh Friday night, the Bruins had 81 shot attempts, 51 shots on net and three goals. However, none of that was enough as the Penguins edged the Bruins 5-3 behind a three-point night from Zach Aston-Reese and stellar performance from Casey DeSmith between the pipes.
In the loss, the Bruins erased deficits of 2-0 and 3-1, before Jake Guentzel’s redirection of a Kris Letang shot served as the game winner.
After Chris Wagner and David Krejci each scored less than a minute apart to the tie the game in the third period, the Bruins had momentum in their favor and seemed on track to extend their winning streak to four. But a d-zone faceoff loss and Guentzel’s redirection was the final dagger.
"The way we came back, it felt like the momentum was on our side. But just a tough break. I lost the defensive zone faceoff, it's back in the net. It's a momentum killer and it's hard to bounce back…it's hard to come back twice in one period against a team like this,” Krejci said.
The goal came just 2:45 after Krejci tied the game at three.
Offensively, the Bruins were all over the Penguins, but DeSmith and his career high 48 saves made it tough on the Bruins. There were several chances for the Bruins to put more goals on the board. From DeSmith’s glove save in the first period on Brad Marchand to Jakob Forsbacka Karlson failing to get a clean shot off in the last few seconds of the third, the puck luck wasn’t quite there.
But defensively, the Bruins made it difficult on themselves. Pittsburgh scored three times on their first 17 shots, including a shorthanded goal by Aston-Reese.
“At the end of the day we overcame that. Unfortunately, not a puck luck around their net…. It’s kind of a fortunate deflection to get the winning goal,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy.
The night was one to forget for Charlie McAvoy. His mishap in the Penguins zone led to the shorthanded tally, and then on Derek Grant’s first period goal, McAvoy and John Moore were both caught below the goal line chasing the puck. Since returning from his concussion earlier this month, McAvoy has been his usual, productive self. I don’t think Friday’s performance is anything to worry about.
Playing from behind has been an issue for the Bruins in their last two games. They trailed by two goals early on Tuesday, before storming back with the game’s next four goals. Then again Friday, it was another two-goal deficit as the Bruins continue to dig themselves into early holes.
It was nice to see the Bruins getting a pair of goals from a guys who you do not expect to put pucks into the net. Wagner’s tally was his third of the season and capped off what was a very good night for the fourth line. Wagner was joined by Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly and the trio was one of the Bruins best.
The line had three points, while Wagner had a game-high nine shots on goal. The work from the line was what led to Brandon Carlo getting his first goal since March 4, 2017.
I thought it was a very weird night in goal for Halak. He wasn’t terrible, but I felt like he needed to make a few saves he didn’t.
Next up for the Bruins is a date with Buffalo Sabres in Boston on Sunday. The Bruins trail the Sabres by four points for the last playoff spot in the Atlantic division.