The Bruins’ offense was nowhere to be found Thursday night as Boston was shut out for just the second time this season in a 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators.
First-period goals by Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg proved to be enough as the Bruins fell to 3-2-0 on their current six-game road trip, which wraps up Saturday night in Dallas.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
The Predators did not crack during a 6-on-4 Bruins power play in the game’s final minutes.
The first period belonged to the home team, as the Predators scored twice to take a 2-0 lead into intermission. Defensive breakdowns led to both goals, with Smith and Forsberg left open to fire shots on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Boston’s top defensive pairing of Zdeno Chara and Zach Trotman were on the ice for both tallies.
The Bruins recorded 10 shots on goal in the first but struggled to generate quality scoring chances against Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne. Defenseman Torey Krug provided one, but he missed the net after beating Rinne five-hole.
MORE OF THE SAME
The Bruins’ offense remained stuck in neutral as the teams returned to the ice for the second. Boston outshot Nashville 9-7 in the middle frame but again lacked quality looks, with Rinne being legitimately tested just two or three times.
David Pastrnak provided Boston’s two best chances, pressuring Rinne once just after the midway point of the period and again with less than a minute remaining.
In fact, the B’s had more self-inflicted near-injuries than they had goals in the second period, as Rask had his mask knocked off by an Adam McQuaid high stick and Brett Connolly crashed hard into the end boards after appearing to catch his stick blade on the back of the Predators’ net.
TURNING IT ON
The Bruins finally began to ratchet up the intensity early in the third, and it very nearly led to their first goal of the night.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Smith gave Boston a power play, and Patrice Begeron jammed the puck past Rinne just over a minute later after a David Krejci shot rang iron. Bergeron fell victim to an early whistle, however, as a referee mistakenly believed Rinne had covered the puck before the Bruins center could get to it. The goal did not count.
The loss marked the 14th time in 16 games that the Bruins failed to score a power-play goal. They were 0-for-4 on such opportunities against the Predators and 1-for-36 over their last 10 games.
Handling average or below-average opponents has been no problem for the Bruins this season. Earning wins against teams with postseason aspirations has been a different animal entirely.
Boston has not defeated a playoff team since Dec. 18, losing their last seven meetings with teams, like the Predators, that would qualify if the season ended Thursday. Yet with the Detroit Red Wings also losing Thursday, they remained in second place in the Atlantic Division, five points shy of the first-place Florida Panthers.
The Bruins take on old friend Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars on Saturday night before heading home.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images