BOSTON — The Bruins did a lot of good things and enjoyed a lot of great moments during calendar year of 2013. The final night of one of the most memorable years in franchise history, however, was not pretty.
The year came to a sloppy end for the Bruins on Tuesday night, as they were upended 5-3 by the lowly New York Islanders in front of another sellout crowd at TD Garden. In the process, the B’s saw their eight-game home winning streak snapped, and the loss marked Boston’s first regulation loss at the Garden since Oct. 26 against the New Jersey Devils.
As was the case that night in late October, some momentary lapses of discipline and a shaky penalty kill were the main culprits Tuesday night against the Islanders. New York was able to score on four of its eight power plays, and that ended up being the difference.
The penalty kill was so bad that head coach Claude Julien declined to get into specifics when asked about the issues with the PK.
“Bad PK here tonight,” he said. “I’m not going to start analyzing the game here. You guys can do that. I’ve got enough of that to do on my own.”
When asked about the PK again, Julien eventually gave in and added that the issue was simply “Sloppiness.”
It also didn’t help that Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask — who has had a sparkling 2013 save for a few starts here and there like Tuesday — wasn’t on his game. The Boston goalie has now given up eight goals in his last four-plus periods which includes being pulled early in the Bruins’ loss to Ottawa on Saturday night. Rask was a moment late getting to pucks all night and allowed a couple of uncharacteristicly soft goals. Add in a couple of bad bounces that the Islanders capitalized on, and it all made for a frustrating night for Rask and the Bruins.
It’s not like the Bruins didn’t have their chances, either. The B’s grabbed a 3-1 lead midway through the second peirod when Daniel Paille tipped Zdeno Chara’s shot from the point.
As they have for much of the year, however, the Bruins were unable to finish the period. First it was Frans Nielsen who scored on the power play at 16:30 to cut the lead to 3-2. Kyle Okposo then tied it up with 2.6 seconds to play in the second as he was the beneficiary of a bounce in front of the net. The Islanders showed no issues in building on that momentum out of the dressing room following the second intermission when John Tavares scored one of his two goals just 32 seconds into the third period. Taveras tacked on another about 13 minutes later to complete a run of four unanswered New York goals.
“I think when we took the 3-1 lead, I think we kind of relaxed, and they came back hard and kind of got the momentum back and we couldn’t regain,” Julien siad. “You make your own breaks, and they made their own breaks by getting some good bounces and getting themselves back in the game. In the third period, they were the better team again and we lost because it was self-inflicted.”
It’s certainly not the way the Bruins wanted to end the season and head into a new year on a high note.
“They capitalized on their chances and got their breaks and say what you want, at the end of the day, you make your breaks,” Bruins winger Milan Lucic said. “So like I said, it sucks to end the year of 2013 this way.”
When the Bruins take the ice again — in 2014 — they’ll get a chance to start the new year on a more promising note than they finished the old one.