The good news for the Bruin is that the 2021 postseason will not feature MacKenzie Blackwood and the New Jersey Devils, who took the season series by a 5-1-2 record behind Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime victory at the Prudential Center.
Overall, it was the fourth head-to-head between the sides to require overtime, and the seventh one-goal decision between the foes in 2021. And for the Bruins, the difference between a win and loss came down to the team’s play in the defensive zone.
“If you look at the chances we gave up, I don’t think it was our best night from our backend in terms of defending the middle of the ice, being good one-on-one,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We stayed in the game, in terms of offensive and generating tonight, but I don’t think we were as good as we needed to be in front of the net on the second goal.
“But we need to close out better. Plain and simple. Stuff we typically do better, we didn’t do tonight.”
Up 2-1 through 40 minutes of action behind goals from Patrice Bergeron and Taylor Hall, the Devils tied things up at the 9:10 mark of the third period, but Sean Kuraly put the Bruins back in front just 1:32 after the Devils’ game-tying tally.
But the Devils answered right back on a snipe from New Jersey’s Yegor Sharangovich just 1:59 after the Kuraly marker.
And in overtime, it was Pavel Zacha who finished off an extended four-on-three sequence for the Devils on a delayed penalty, much to the chagrin of Jaroslav Halak, who outright destroyed his stick on the post following the Zacha goal. In what was first start since Apr. 3, Halak turned aside 17-of-21 shots in the losing effort, dropping his record to 9-6-4 on the year.
Blackwood, meanwhile, finished with stops on 33-of-36 shots faced, wrapping up an outright ridiculous 2021 season against the Bruins. In net for six starts against the Black and Gold this season, Blackwood went 4-0-2 with a .944 save percentage against Boston, compared to a 9-16-2 record and .891 save percentage in 27 games against the rest of the East Division.
Best single season SV% vs. BOS since 1996 (min. 5 starts)— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) May 5, 2021
1. '05-06 Cristobal Huet (.969)
2. '96-97 Dom Hasek (.965)
3. '03-04 Ed Belfour (.953)
4. '03-04 Jose Theodore (.952)
5. '06-07 Marty Biron (.947)
6. '21 Semyon Varlamov (.944)
7. '21 MacKenzie Blackwood (.944)
The Bruins suffered an in-game loss in this one, too, with Charlie Coyle removed from the game for the third period. The Bruins did not have an update on Coyle, who has moved from center to right wing over the last week plus. after the game.
“He’s getting looked at,” said Cassidy. “I’ve got nothing yet, hopefully he’s OK, but I haven’t heard.”
But in a bit of good news, Brandon Carlo returned to the B’s defense and finished with one hit, a block, and three shots on goal in 20:51 of action by the night’s end. And Carlo, who has missed all but three games since Mar. 5, said after the game that he doesn’t expect to deal with any ‘load management’ down the stretch, as he felt completely fine throughout this contest.
Up next, the Bruins will head home for a three-game homestand with two meetings against the Rangers and a season series finale with the Islanders.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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.