By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The physical toll of a three-in-four stretch arrived and spelled trouble in the third period of Wednesday's head-to-head with the New York Rangers, as the Boston Bruins blew a two-goal edge and fell in a shootout by a 4-3 final.
And while it was almost to be expected -- the Bruins have already played two heavy, heavy games this week against the Capitals and Islanders -- it's still the kind of defeat the Black and Gold know they can't afford this time of year.
"It's unacceptable," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said after the shootout defeat. "Up by two, heading to the third on the road, you've got to play a solid third and obviously we didn't do that."
Holding a 3-1 edge after a three goal outburst of a middle frame sparked by some Bruce Cassidy line-tinkering, it began to fall apart for the B's when Kevin Hayes struck at the 9:24 mark of the third period. And it got worse when Filip Chytil tied things up on the power play less than three minutes after that thanks to a reckless Charlie McAvoy penalty.
From there, a loss felt like a mere inevitability, as the Rangers out-chanced the Bruins with legitimate shots on Jaroslav Halak, while the Bruins failed to put the bulk of their overtime chances on goal in what was an absurd overtime frame.
But in a seven-round shootout frame, it was the Rangers' Mika Zibanejad and Tony DeAngelo that struck while the Bruins went just 1-for-7, with their only goal coming off the speedy moves of Brad Marchand.
Veteran winger David Backes, who entered play with five goals and 13 points (zero points in his last five games) in 44 games this season, sat as a healthy scratch up front, summoning Danton Heinen back into action after a two-game layoff.
Heinen made good on his opportunity, scoring the first Boston goal of the night, and skating with Bergeron and Marchand's on Boston's top line after Cassidy's lineup shuffle. Heinen finished the night with three shots in 13:24 of action.
"It's a treat to play with those guys, such good players," said Heinen. "Felt good to get on the board,
"It's an honor to play with those two guys, so just try to complement them any way I can."
With the loss, the Bruins have now dropped six of their last seven games at Madison Square Garden.
The Bruins are back at it Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.