Bruins Notes: Special Teams Plays Major Role In Playoff Series Loss To Senators

BOSTON — The Bruins and Ottawa Senators played six one-goal games in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, and with so little room for error, special teams became a major factor.

The Senators performed better in these situations, and that’s a key reason why they won the series in six games and will move on to the second round.

The Senators scored on two of their five power plays Sunday, including one in overtime on a Clarke MacArthur goal. They also equalized 1-1 in the second period when Bobby Ryan deflected a Derick Brassard shot past B’s goalie Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins started Game 6 with three delay of game penalties in the first period, but their penalty kill went 3-for-3 in the opening frame. The Senators made the necessary adjustments and scored on their final two opportunities with the man advantage.

The Bruins had the best penalty kill in the regular season at 85.7 percent, but they allowed five power-play goals in six playoff games, including two contests during which the Senators scored twice with the extra skater.

As much as the stats might suggest, the Bruins weren’t bad short-handed. They did the best they could without two important penalty killers in Brandon Carlo and Adam McQuaid because of injuries. Carlo didn’t play at all in the series, and McQuaid left Game 2 and didn’t return.

These injuries forced Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller to play more than their usual time on the penalty kick, and that’s certainly not easy.

Boston had spurts of excellent penalty killing, including a 5-for-5 mark in Game 5 and Sunday’s 3-for-3 start. But it wasn’t enough against an Ottawa squad with the high-end offensive skill to make teams pay for taking penalties.

Here are some other notes from Bruins-Senators Game 6.

— Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask had a .919 save percentage in the series. That’s not bad at all, especially when you factor how many breakaways the Bruins gave up over six games. Boston also allowed 58 high-danger scoring chances in six games, per Natural Stat Trick, and also played without several regular defensemen throughout the series.

The Bruins wouldn’t even have played Game 6 if not for Rask’s Game 5 heroics in the overtime periods. He performed as well as could have been expected given how the B’s played in front of him and the injuries they had.

B’s forward Brad Marchand gave a simple analysis of Rask’s play in the series: “He played phenomenal.”

— Drew Stafford turned out to be a solid trade-deadline acquisition by Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, especially at the cost of a conditional 2018 sixth-round draft pick. The former Winnipeg Jet tallied eight points (four goals, four assists) in 18 regular-season games with the Bruins, and he added two more goals in the six-game Round 1 series versus Ottawa. He is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent July 1.

— The Bruins lost all three games at home in the series. Boston hasn’t done that in a six-game playoff matchup since 1998 when it was eliminated by the Washington Capitals.

— Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and Bruins rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy were two of the best players in the series. There’s a lot of respect between them, and that was evident in the post-series handshake line.

— Senators winger Bobby Ryan was a beast in this series. He scored four goals in four separate games, including the winner in overtime of Game 3 and the only goal of Ottawa’s 1-0 Game 4 victory. His power-play goal in Game 6 got the Senators on the board, and he also picked up an assist on MacArthur’s series-winning goal.

Ryan finished the series with seven points (four goals, three assists) in six games after scoring just 13 goals in the regular season.

— Senators center Derick Brassard tallied a series-leading eight points (three goals, five assists) and ended on a five-game point streak. He assisted on Ryan’s and MacArthur’s goals in Game 6. Brassard also was very aggressive in the attacking zone with 17 shots on net in the series.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

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