By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
For the second time in three nights, an overtime turnover from Brad Marchand ended up in the back of Boston’s net and spoiled an otherwise strong Boston Bruins late effort in a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
Hoping for a faster and stronger start than they’ve gotten in the previous two games of this road swing, Jaroslav Halak failed to deliver, as he let a Brandon Sutter shot squeak under his pads and put the Canucks on the board just 3:40 into action.
The sequence did come with some sort of apparent assignment mix-up from Boston defenders Matt Grzelcyk and Urho Vaakanainen (making his NHL debut after jetting to Vancouver from the Atlantic seaboard), but it’s the kind of chance that the 33-year-old Halak has to deny, especially at that juncture of the game, and with that young a pairing in front of him.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad failed to provide any sort of first-period jump after that goal, though, and finished the opening frame with just five shots on goal, none of which appeared to put any doubt in the head of Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom.
But the Bruins flipped the switch in the middle frame, outshooting the Canucks 15-5, and it was in the third period that they were finally rewarded for their efforts by way of Joakim Nordstrom’s snipe for his second goal of the season.
Pushed to overtime behind a game-saving stop from Halak against Vancouver’s Nikolay Goldobin, the Bruins looked as if they were creating chances in the overtime frame. Brandon Carlo had a look that just bounced off his stick and behind the Vancouver net, and the Bruins appeared to be challenging once again when Marchand and Carlo had a mix-up at the attacking blue line.
The Canucks grabbed the puck and turned it into a two-on-one, and while Carlo played the two-on-one as well as one could, Brock Boeser was able to successfully feed the puck to Bo Horvat for the game-winning strike against Halak and the Bruins.
Unfortunately for Carlo, the two offensive-zone miscues in overtime will do their part to flush away what was an otherwise strong performance in a reunion of sorts with captain Zdeno Chara. In what finished as team-high 23:43 of time on ice, Carlo led all Boston defenders with three shots on goal, and was perhaps the B’s most steady defenseman in their own zone.
It’s just that Carlo is not exactly your natural first pick for three-on-three overtime minutes, and that much is obvious. But it’s not as if the Bruins had tons of options. Still without Torey Krug (ankle) and without Charlie McAvoy (undisclosed) Saturday night, the Bruins started their overtime with John Moore as their No. 1 defenseman. Grzelcyk was their No. 2 choice, and then Carlo. Now, the Bruins sat the 19-year-old Vaakanainen for the final six minutes of the third period, meaning going to him in overtime was likely never an option for Cassidy, and same can be said for Steven Kampfer. Zdeno Chara is not an optimal pick for the rather frantic pace that the three-on-three typically comes with, either, and the Bruins seemingly know that with his usage there.
Halak, meanwhile, made consecutive starts for the first time this season, and finished the night with stops on 20 of 22 shots. Boston’s power play continued to sputter, too, with an 0-for-3 mark, and is now 0-for-10 on the trip as a whole.
The Bruins also played this game without forward David Backes, as well as defensemen McAvoy and Kevan Miller. Backes was a late scratch after going through the team’s morning skate, with fears of a possible concussion at play following his hit from the Oilers’ Matt Benning on Thursday night. Miller and McAvoy both flew back to Boston, too, with Miller dealing with the aftermath of a blocked shot to his hand, while McAvoy has ‘not felt right’ for close to a week now according to Cassidy.
The undermanned Bruins will hope to break even on this four-game road trip with Tuesday’s finale in Ottawa.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.