A pair of third-period breakdowns turned a more-than-winnable game into a loss for the Bruins on Friday afternoon, as the Rangers scored four unanswered tallies to down by the Bruins by a 5-2 final at TD Garden.
“We kind of pissed it away,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the loss. “You gotta play winning hockey at the right time.”
Deadlocked at 2-2 through 40 minutes of action, New York jumped out front when Artemi Panarin finished off a 3-on-2 look that had Derek Forbort swimming on his hands and knees while Panarin beat Brandon Carlo to inside positioning. Boston’s forecheckers, meanwhile, were beat a solid 50 feet behind the play.
Up for the first time all day, the Rangers refused to let the lead slip, and actually doubled it when Jakub Zboril couldn’t keep the puck in the attacking zone and sparked the Rangers on a two-on-one the other way.
FRENCH CONNECTION, PT. II pic.twitter.com/jI9aoBjxId— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 26, 2021
The road to that 5-2 loss didn’t make it any easier to swallow for the Bruins.
On the attack from the moment the puck dropped, the Bruins stormed the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin for 17 shots in the opening period of action, and broke through for their first goal of the afternoon when Craig Smith jumped on a puck bobbled by New York defenseman Jacob Trouba to give Boston a 1-0 lead at the 14:46 mark of the period.
The goal was Smith’s second of the season, and his second in the last four games, with the 32-year-old wing totaling four points since returning to the lineup on Nov. 20.
But in a period that was all Bruins, a late-period breakdown saw Ryan Strome all alone in front of Jeremy Swayman, and Strome did not miss on a game-tying goal scored with 5.8 seconds remaining in the opening 20.
The goal trading between the Original Six rivals continued in the middle frame, too, as the Rangers matched Patrice Bergeron’s go-ahead goal with a Dryden Hunt rebound goal put through Swayman less than six minutes later.
And in a second frame that required more than a few big-time stops from Swayman, the 23-year-old brought out the paddle for his best of the period, denying Mika Zibanejad on a sensational, Tim Thomas circa 2010-11 stop to keep things even at 2-2.
Swayman finished with 26 saves by the night’s end, including a stop on Chris Kreider when Kreider attempted the ‘Michigan’ goal behind the Boston net, but took his fourth loss of the season.
But this loss really wasn’t about Swayman as much as it was the chaos in front of him. Even before the third period. In addition to the confusion that opened New York’s scoring in this game, the Hunt rebound goal came with the Bruins gassed following an icing and with an own-zone turnover to spark the entire sequence for the Blueshirts.
It was just a day of mistakes that this B’s team just isn’t built to withstand with so many new faces still working into the mix.
“It’s a different year for us,” Brad Marchand said after the loss. “We have to build something again. We knew it’d be a process to build. We’re not concerned in Game 17 or 18. It’s like building a house. We gotta build the foundation.
“If we stop shooting ourselves in the foot, we’re gonna have a hell of a team.”
The Bruins will return to action Sunday night against the Canucks.
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.