The Bruins have been so darn good at putting together comebacks that they already have a handful of “good losses,” whatever that really means. They did the inverse of that on Tuesday night in Washington in what can’t be labeled as anything but a horrible loss.
It may have been the worst Bruins loss of the season given the B’s stranglehold through 20 minutes. The Bruins saw that lead melt away in the second and third periods before Eric Fehr scored the game-winner in overtime to give the Capitals a seemingly improbable 4-3 win over Boston.
There is no denying the fact that the Bruins are one of the best teams in hockey when they’re down and backed into a corner. On multiple occasions this season the B’s have stormed back from multiple-goal deficits to either win games or at least gain a point. Boston is 2-0-2 when trailing after two periods, which just illustrates their never-say-die attitude.
What is more perplexing, of course, is their inability to close out games in which they are seemingly in control. That third-period dominance we’ve seen so much often season is exclusive to games in which they’ve had to come back. That also was on display Sunday night against Montreal when the Bruins, without help from Zdeno Chara for much of the third period, couldn’t seal the deal against the hated Habs. The B’s certainly can’t blame this loss on the officiating, though.
With Tuesday’s overtime loss they are now just 5-2-1 when leading after two periods, which means they’ve come away as the loser (counting overtime) three times this season when leading after 40 minutes. Last season, they didn’t lose a single game when leading after two.
To put that in another way, the Bruins have actually gained six points when trailing after two, whereas they’ve lost five points when leading after two. It’s baffling to say the least.
But the players may have shed some light on things following their loss to the Caps on Tuesday. The main theme among the Bruins was that they got too comfortable, too complacent, and that’s what cost them in the end.
“You can’t expect to win the hockey game if you’re not going to play three periods,” Claude Julien said after the game. “You knew they were gonna come out with a vengeance in the second and we didn’t respond well. We don’t have too many three-goal leads and we got too comfortable.”
One would (correctly) assume that playing with a three-goal lead would be advantageous. But for the Bruins, jumping out to early leads seems to be some sort of a curse.
“I think we just got too comfortable,” Dougie Hamilton said. “We thought it was gonna be easier, got a little bit cocky and that’s what happens.”
It’s not like the Bruins didn’t have their chances, though. They were unable to bury scoring chances in the second and the third. After scoring a power-play goal in the first period, the man-advantage looked totally lost late in the third period, when Boston squandered a power play in the final two minutes of regulation.
The defensive breakdowns continued as well. The first Capitals goal came when the Bruins again struggled to clear their own zone. The second goal came when Chris Kelly lost a defensive zone faceoff clean. The third and game-tying tally came as Eric Fehr chipped the puck through Hamilton’s legs before Wojtek Wolski put it by Tuukka Rask. The game-winning goal was a thing of beauty by Fehr, but it was certainly helped along by the fact that Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg couldn’t stop the forward, as he split the Boston D-pair with ease.
“It’s very tough,” Brad Marchand said. “We had the game in the bag and we got complacent. It’s a tough loss and it shouldn’t have even gotten to overtime. We aren’t playing our game. We were sitting back, giving them odd-man rushes and we weren’t fore-checking like we were in the first. We gave them a lot of opportunities and they took advantage of them.”
The Bruins, despite their inability to put the Capitals away Tuesday, came away with a point on Tuesday night. However, this point wasn’t even earned, let alone salvaged.