When the Bruins fell behind 3-0 early in the second period against the Kings at TD Garden on Saturday night, they could make a legitimate case for being the victims of a few bad breaks rather than simply bad play.
There was no question about Boston’s effort that night. Los Angeles capitalized on a few opportunities early, but the Bruins stuck with the game plan and eventually rallied to tie the game and earn a point in a 4-3 shootout loss.
After watching host Tampa Bay break open Monday night’s game with three straight goals in the second period, there was no bright side to look on for the Bruins. Yes, they were able to mount a bit of a rally in the third, with Michael Ryder scoring midway through the final frame to avoid the shutout, but the Lightning’s 3-1 victory was never in doubt.
The Bruins were fortunate to get out of the first period unscathed, as they were outshot 11-7 and created few genuine scoring chances in the first 20 minutes. The struggled to keep up with Tampa’s quickness, and only some big saves by Tuukka Rask kept the game scoreless.
Not even Rask could keep that up indefinitely, and when the Bruins’ effort didn’t pick up in the second the inevitable occurred. Dana Tyrell opened the scoring with a tip in front of a Randy Jones shot at 3:26, then Steven Stamkos scored his league-leading 20th goal from Martin St. Louis at 5:15.
Teddy Purcell would add another goal at 11:36 when he played the carom of a Dominic Moore shot off the end boards and flipped it in at the left post, but this one really ended with that two-goal flurry in a 1:51 span early in the second. The Bruins didn’t have the kind of energy needed to dig themselves out of that kind of hole on this night.
The problems started right from the top, as Boston’s top line of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic were virtually invisible all night. The trio combined for just a single shot on goal, and that didn’t come until Krejci fired in a shot from the high slot in the closing minutes.
Lucic did manage to dish out a game-high six hits, but he and Horton, who lead the Bruins with 10-7-17 and 8-10-18 totals respectively, only attempted a total of five shots combined, with three missing the net and two blocked in front.
While Boston’s big guns stayed holstered, Tampa Bay unleashed theirs with Stamkos scoring what proved the winner from St. Louis and Steve Downie. Even with Vincent Lecavalier and Simon Gagne sidelined with injuries, the Lightning had plenty of firepower to exploit the Bruins on a night it didn’t bring its skating game.
Stamkos has now scored in 18 of 21 games this year, and is about as consistent an offensive force as there is in the league. The Bruins hope their own dynamic young star forward will develop into a similar sort of difference maker. Prior to the draft, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli even compared Tyler Seguin to Stamkos.
This year’s No. 2 overall pick has a long way to go to reach that level, but Seguin did provide one encouraging sign on Monday. Playing just his second game of the season on wing and his first alongside Patrice Bergeron, Seguin was one of Boston’s few consistent offensive threats. He used his speed to burst through the neutral zone and draw a hooking call and finished with four shots, second only to Bergeron’s five. Seguin also chipped in a pair of takeaways while playing 13:55, his most ice-time in 10 games.
Coach Claude Julien won’t like much of what he sees when he reviews the tape from this one, but the sight of Seguin’s immense skill and speed potentially finding just the right fit out wide may just make the viewing bearable. At least until the Bruins can give him something better to watch against the Panthers on Wednesday.