BOSTON — Adam McQuaid could only watch from a distance as two white-jerseyed skaters stampeded toward his goaltender, passing the puck twice between them before the one on the right blasted it into the back of a wide-open net.
Sunday was that kind of night for the Boston Bruins.
The defenseman’s ill-timed wipeout, which resulted in the first of two Ryan Callahan goals and gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a first-period lead they would not relinquish, was just one of several self-inflicted wounds that doomed the Bruins in a 4-1 loss at TD Garden.
“My feet just came out from underneath me,” McQuaid said. “I know I’m not the fleetest of foot or the best skater, but usually I’m able to stay on my feet for the most part in those situations.”
The Lightning scored one goal on McQuaid’s tumble, two more on power plays and a fourth on a Steven Stamkos penalty shot, which came after Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow coughed the puck up at his own blue line and Brad Marchand was forced to hack Stamkos down from behind.
That entire penalty-shot sequence took place during the period of 4-on-4 hockey that followed a questionable embellishment call on Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, meaning four of Boston’s five minor penalties led either directly or indirectly to Tampa Bay goals.
“It was a lot of fun,” goalie Tuukka Rask said sarcastically. “You know, whatever. Stopped some shots and let some shots in. I mean, 2-on-0, you don’t see that every night. Penalty shot, sometimes you save it, sometimes you don’t. (Callahan’s second) goal was probably borderline goalie interference — I don’t even know how that went in. But, you know, tough night.”
The Bruins, on the other hand, failed to capitalize on any of their six power-play opportunities, continuing an unpleasant trend for a unit that until recently had been among the NHL’s best.
“It was disappointing,” center Patrice Bergeron said. “They played well, but we’ve got to be what we can be, and we’ve got to be a lot better.”
The loss prevented the Bruins from climbing to within one win of first place in the Atlantic Division. The Lighting now enter Monday in that position, with the B’s trailing them by two points and the division-leading Florida Panthers by four.
Some additional notes from Sunday’s action:
— Monday is trade deadline day in the NHL, and it remains to be seen whether any Bruins players will be changing sweaters. It’s a stressful time even for NHLers who are unlikely to be moved, as center David Krejci explained after the game.
“I learned in the past not to really guess what’s going to happen, because it’s never worked for me before,” Krejci said. “So, I’m going to kind of sit back and watch on TV, I guess, and see what’s going to happen.
“You don’t want to think about it, but this is your life, right? So, you kind of have to pay attention. You can be somewhere else the next day, and as much as you — as a hockey player, your whole family goes through it. This is our life, and obviously, yeah, we do pay attention.”
The Bruins player with the brightest spotlight on him Monday will be one of Krejci’s linemates: winger Loui Eriksson, whom general manager Don Sweeney discussed at length during a pregame news conference.
The quick version: Eriksson, an impending unrestricted free agent, had yet to sign a contract extension with the Bruins as of Sunday afternoon, and while Sweeney would prefer to re-sign the 30-year-old, he’s also spoken with several teams about potential trades. Sweeney also said he’d be willing to keep Eriksson even if the sides do not come to terms on a new deal before the deadline.
“I’m sure when the deadline passes, guys will — if they’re still here — they might breathe a sigh of relief,” McQuaid said, “and we get focused and get ready to have a good stretch here.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien
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