You knew the Black and Gold’s comedown from a 19-game point streak was going to be a rough one. But with losses in three straight after Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Jets, the Bruins are in a bind they haven’t felt since a three-game slide in the first week of December.
And it was the same old bad patterns that doomed the Bruins yet again.
The victim of starting late throughout this three-game skid, that trend continued against Blake Wheeler and the Jets, as Wheeler potted his 20th goal of the season just 1:08 into the first period. Winnipeg made Boston pay for their first penalty of the night, too, as Mark Scheifele made it 2-0 in favor of the Jets at the midway point of the period.
All this while the B’s simply dreamed about pressuring the Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck for serious looks on goal.
But the Bruins would break through before the opening frame’s conclusion, as Charlie McAvoy capitalized on a terrific feed from David Krejci for sixth goal of the season, and the strike needed to prevent this one from spiraling out of control.
Riding the momentum of a strong finish into the second period, the Bruins straight-up pummeled the Jets for chances in the middle frame (Boston outshot the Jets 19-7 in the middle frame). And a goal came from the unlikeliest of sources, actually, as it was Joakim Nordstrom that scored his first goal in 26 games to tie things up at 2-2 at the 10:00 mark of the second frame.
But a revert back to what got the Bruins in trouble in Pittsburgh and Columbus — and even the first period of Thursday’s game — came back to bite the Bruins, as the Jets quickly regained their two-goal edge behind goals from Jacob Trouba and Nik Ehlers in a 5:24 stretch to make it 4-2 in favor of Winnipeg.
The Trouba goal came as a result of chaos in front of B’s netminder Tuukka Rask, while Danton Heinen by all means gift-wrapped Winnipeg’s fourth goal, as he was unable to corral a bouncing a puck through the danger area of Boston’s d-zone.
Charlie Coyle and the Bruins would not go down without a fight, though, as Coyle connected for his first goal in a Boston uniform, a deflection off a Zdeno Chara shot at the 17:04 mark of the third, to make it a one-goal game.
It was too little too late, though, as the Bruins failed to find the equalizer before time expired.
Rask finished with stops on 20-of-24 shots thrown his way in the losing effort. With the defeat, Rask now has back-to-back losses for the first time since dropping games on Dec. 16 against Buffalo and Dec. 23 against the Hurricanes.
And with that, the Bruins will return back to Boston having grabbed zero of a possible six points.
“I think we played three very good hockey teams this week,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters after the loss. That’s part of it. Part of it is we haven’t started on time, so we put ourselves in a hole. We’re playing catch up every night.
“That’s a bad formula in the National Hockey League.”
The Bruins will have Friday off before a Saturday night home meeting with the Blue Jackets.