BOSTON — The Bruins and Ottawa Senators played a thrilling Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series at TD Garden on Monday night.
The physicality went up several notches compared to the two previous games, and offense was aplenty as the Senators emerged victorious 4-3 after Bobby Ryan scored in overtime to give Ottawa a 2-1 series lead.
The penalty that resulted in Ottawa’s overtime power play drew plenty of criticism. B’s forward Riley Nash was hit along the boards, went to retaliate and was the only player sent to the penalty box.
Nash didn’t blame the referees after the loss. He blamed himself.
“I think it was pretty selfish of me. You can’t make that play,” Nash said. “Can’t put the refs in that position regardless of what happened before that.”
Nash was hit in the head by Ryan just before he retaliated. Both players probably should’ve been sent to the box with matching minors for roughing. The officials were letting a lot of rough play go throughout the game, which is why it was strange to see this type of call in overtime of a playoff contest.
“I felt like I was down on my knee and he came and hit me. Elbow or a fist, whatever it was,” Nash said. “I tried to just push, punch him off me and caught his face. He kind of embellished a bit, but I don’t know. Still, it just can’t happen. You’ve got to take that. It’s playoffs, you’ve got to take it.”
Officiating is inconsistent, so the Bruins must focus on being smarter and avoiding retaliation penalties. The Senators’ power play ranked in the bottom third of the league during the regular season, but they do have the high-end offensive skill to make teams pay for taking penalties.
Ottawa has scored three goals with the man advantage over the last two games, including a pair of power-play goals in Game 3. The Bruins had the league’s best penalty-killing percentage during the regular season, and the unit must improve for Boston to even this series Wednesday night.
“(The referees) called it, and once they call it, it’s our job to kill it,” Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said.
It’s really that simple.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Senators Game 3.
— Bruins forward David Pastrnak extended his playoff point streak to three games with a power-play goal that evened the score 3-3 in the second period.
— Charlie McAvoy tallied his first career NHL point with the primary assist on Pastrnak’s power-play goal. The 19-year-old rookie defenseman recorded 24:44 of ice time, the third-most on the Bruins. He received a huge ovation from Bruins fans during the introduction of the starting lineups. It was McAvoy’s first home game as an NHL player.
— The list of Bruins who have made their playoff debuts this series grew Monday night when defenseman Tommy Cross and forward Noel Acciari drew into the lineup. They join McAvoy, Pastrnak, Colin Miller, Riley Nash, Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller, Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Anton Khudobin as Bruins who’ve made their playoff debuts over the last week.
— This fantastic save by Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson proved to be a game-saver with the Senators prevailing in overtime. David Backes did well to find David Krejci with a nifty pass, but the Bruins center couldn’t bury it.
— The Bruins got off to another bad start Monday night. They went into the first intermission trailing 2-0, then went down 3-0 early in the second period after giving up a power-play goal to Sens forward Mike Hoffman.
Boston was able to mount an impressive comeback and tie the score 3-3 entering the third period, but it would benefit the Bruins to start the game much better and not give Ottawa all the momentum early on.
“That first period was tough,” Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. “We didn’t really get anything accomplished there and really gave them some good looks. We only had two or three shots there. But, we battled back. Even though we fell down 3-0, we still battled back and showed some character. But, it’s too bad we fell short.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images