Odd-Man Rushes Hamper Bruins
Outnumbered situations, at both ends of the ice, trouble B's in 4-3 OT loss to Capitals
BostonBruins.com – The 3-0 lead is the most dangerous advantage in hockey. And Tuesday night the Bruins found that out the hard way. After taking a three-zip lead following the first period, the Black & Gold surrendered four unanswered goals, eventually falling to the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in overtime.
The Bruins ended the night with trouble at both ends of the ice in the final two-plus periods, being faced with multiple odd-man rushes that led to Capitals’ goals, and not capitalizing on their own outnumbered opportunities on Washington goalie, Braden Holtby.
“Yeah, actually it is,” said Head Coach Claude Julien, on whether it was surprising that his team did not hold on to the three-goal lead. “But, I think tonight was a lot like the other night. We gave Montreal four shots, gave them two goals.
“Tonight, we outshoot [Washington] 15-8 [in the third], we had a lot of outnumbered situations in the third where we could've sealed the deal, but our inability to score just kept them in the game.
“Eventually, they got the goal that they wanted. A lot of breakdowns, and you just have to look at the overtime goal, one guy beats two guys and then scores. It says a lot.”
For a team that usually prides itself on defense, the Bruins ended up with a lot uncharacteristic mistakes.
Just 37 seconds into overtime, Caps forward Eric Fehr was able to split Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton on a two-on-two rush, and, while falling to the ice, fired a wrister over the left shoulder of Tuukka Rask for the winner.
“I’m not really sure, he kind of just split me and Seides and scored,” said Hamilton following the loss. “I think both those last goals off the rush, two-on-twos – other than that, I thought we had some pretty good D-zone coverage. We didn't give up too much, but I guess it's another game we can learn from. Just have to put it behind us.”
The Caps’ tying goal came with 6:05 remaining in the third period. All five Bruins got caught watching the puck, and Wojtek Wolski was able to sneak in behind the defense, after the puck bounced off Hamilton and backhand it in to knot things up at 3-3.
“We were up by three goals, fell asleep in the second, and gave up a couple unnecessary goals. And then the third was another softie on me, and overtime we know what happened,” explained Rask.
“Sometimes we're just puck-watching too much in our own end and not recognizing those guys back door. It's probably one of those things we need to take a look at.”
Like Rask, many of his Bruins teammates acknowledged after the game that they have to get
back to basics when it comes to their play defensively.
“Yeah, definitely,” said Brad Marchand, when asked about the B’s needing to focus on their defensive play. “When we give up three or four goals it definitely means we've got to fix some things. It just seemed like we were out of position a little bit and we weren't pushing back as hard as we can. Again, we were giving them a little too much time and space.”
While the B’s struggled to contain the Capitals’ odd-man rushes, they weren't able to take advantage of a few golden chances of their own in the final period.
The Merlot line had a three-on-one chance early in the third, but were unable to get a shot off on Holtby. And about halfway through the third, David Krejci also led a three-on-one opportunity, with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. Krejci’s backhander was denied.
“Offensively, like I said, you've got a three-on-one, you've got a two-on-one, you've got to be able to capitalize on at least one of those odd-man rushes,” said Julien after the game.
“If you capitalize, it's a different hockey game.”