Well, it turns out you can't win every game where you enter the third period trailing, and, with any luck, the Bruins will go about this a little differently on Thursday night. Tonight, they dropped the first away game of the series, 3-2, after going down 3-0 at one point in front of a (obviously) sold-out Bell Centre crowd.
The Habs once again broke through first, taking a 1-0 lead at 10:57 of the first, scoring on a tic-tac-toe play from PK Subban to Thomas Vanek to Tomas Plekanec. I'm not sure it's possible to fit more "Bruins killer" in one goal. I can't deny that the passing play itself, and the finish by Turtleneck, were both beautiful plays, but I would like to note that neither Jarome Iginla or Kevan Miller was able to pick up the "toe" part of the play, and Plekanec was virtually uncovered as a result. I suppose you could also ask who Torey Krug was planning on covering on the play, but one of the first two players needed to intercept Pleks's net drive. Defensive Breakdown No. 1.
A little under three minutes later, the hated Canadiens made it 2-0. PK Subban had been in the box after throwing a bit of an elbow at Reilly Smith's chest on an otherwise legal check (I put it this way because I don't think there was headhunting involved), and after a very 2011ish Bruins Power Play, Dougie Hamilton was distracted by high-pitched noises that only he could hear, allowing Subban to exit the box, pick up the home run pass from Lars Eller, and walk in alone on Tuukka Rask. Subban deke to the forehand and score, completing Defensive Breakdown No. 2.
This series being this series, the Bruins had a significant pushback at the beginning and middle of the second period, with several instances of good zone time for the Patrice Bergeron and Carl Soderberg lines, but once again, the Defensive Breakdown Kraken reared its ugly head. After a good couple minutes of sustained pressure, Mike Weaver--who played about as good a game as you can when being paired with the hilariously pylonesque Douglas Murray--blocked a B's attempt. The deflection caromed right to Daniel Briere, who split Jonny Boychuk and Andrej Meszaros with a stretch pass for Dale Weise. Weise, in alone on Rask, scored. Defensive Breakdown No. 3, and I really don't know how you let Weise get between you. Meszaros? Sure, bad play, but that's sort of as-advertised. Boychuk? I expected a little better. Oof.
This being the 2013-2014 Bruins vs. a Habs team that really hasn't been that good possession-wise, Boston wasn't done, of course. Near the close of what was shaping up to be another disappointing second period, Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins a way back in it by tipping home a Torey Krug drive from the point set-up by a good win by Brad Marchand. At 17:48 of the second, it was 3-1, and the Habs had to figure out a way to hold on to a two-goal lead again. You may recall that didn't go well for them in Game 2.
However, the Bruins went another twenty minutes before they would actually hit paydirt, ringing at least a couple posts in the process, and they only closed to 3-2 at 17:48 of the third. Jarome Iginla, who's had a bit of a rough series, at least by his regular season standards, tipped home a Meszaros drive from the point. When the Bruins pulled the goalie and got some sustained zone time, it was easy to think that they could pull off another improbable comeback late in the third.
Sadly, tonight, it wasn't to be, as Eller would pick up the ENG--the only goal on which no Bruins defender can really be blamed.
- I have very little to complain about from the Marchand-Bergeron-Reilly Smith trio, as they're winning the possession battles and generally keeping the Habs big guns silenced at Even Strength. The way they were flying tonight, it was only a matter of time before one of them lit the lamp.
- This is going to be beat until a pulp unless Max Pacioretty scores, but it must be said that Zdeno Chara played another very good game. Big Z was the only DMan who wasn't left shaking his head after a goal-allowing gaffe tonight, and he continues to be a big part of the Bruins shutting down Montreal's most prolific goal-scorer.
- They didn't find paydirt tonight, but the Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson, and now Dan Paille line continues to win their Corgi War, and they created some good chances again tonight. Wouldn't be surprised to see them be a big factor in Game 4 with a little better puckluck/finishing.
- The Bruins are still winning the possession battle at 5-on-5, so if there's a way to get rid of the defensive breakdowns without changing this, I still like our chances going forward. As a counterpoint, though, they sure as heck had more trouble getting their attempts on net tonight than usual, so maybe tonight was more of a clunker than our Fenwick line suggests.
- The Bruins had far too much sloppiness in their game tonight, mainly manifesting in how the three goals were allowed. Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Andrej Meszaros, Johnny Boychuk, and Kevan Miller all had bad moments on the back end. While some of them had positive plays later on, the Bruins might not have been chasing the game so much without earlier lapses.
- Some people thought Rask could've been better, I'm of the opinion that the Bruins sort of hung him out to dry tonight -- all three goals were of the "yeah, it would've been great if he could've somehow stopped that, but really guys?!" variety. The Bruins really just needed to be tighter defensively, as it's hard to think of the last time I saw them give up two stretch-pass goals in one game. Those layers need to be thicker.
- The David Krejci line needs to start generating something a little earlier in the game. While Jarome iginla's tip-in got him and Milan Lucic on the scoresheet tonight, the line has looked slightly off for much of the series. It's not the kind of "off" that's easy to quantify without zone entry data yet, but I'll speculate that they've had a harder time than usual generating shots when they enter the zone. They combined for 4 SOG tonight, Patrice Bergeron had six by himself. I'm not saying they're playing superbadly--they did notch a goal after all--but the Bruins really could use more of the regular season Krejci line.
- Merlot did not look like they belonged on the ice tonight, registering a single SOG between them (which was Shawn Thornton, just so you know). With Daniel Paille's promotion to the third line, they're having more difficulty than ever clearing their own zone. The ship's probably sailed on serious line-up tweaks, but I wouldn't mind seeing some experimentation here. The current incarnation of this line probably wasn't worth the ice time they got in the third period.
- Carl Soderberg's goalie interference call is not one that I'm happy to see the Bruins taking. I know Carey Price was pretty far out of the crease, but Carl and a couple other Bruins need to try to avoid contact with the goaltender more or they're going to keep giving the Habs Power Play opportunities.
- Dale Weise had two points. We obviously need to gameplan around stopping this guy. But seriously, Dale Weise?!
- Despite reputations involved, the game was definitely reffed in a very "let 'em play" fashion. Subban's questionable hit on Smith was deemed roughing, and Soderberg knocking into Price. Those were the two penalties in a Bruins-Habs game. I just wrote that sentence, and it's still making me double-take.
- Going along with that first point, this is the first game in the series that the Habs haven't scored a goal on the man advantage. Subban still had two points.
- Credit where credit is due, Montreal's pre-game ceremony was absolutely spectacular. Set an unreal tone for this game.
- The Habs are now 6-3 against the Bruins this season, which can stop being anytime it wants to and I'd be quite thrilled if it did.
- Subban knocked the net off with about 10 seconds to go, because of course he did. Didn't make a difference, but it was pretty Subbany.
Quote of the Night:
Tuukka Rask: "I don't think we played bad; we just made stupid mistakes."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 7, 2014
This. So much this. One too many breakdowns on the back end was really the difference tonight.
The Bruins are back at it Thursday at 7:30 PM, on NBC, for Game 4. Here's hoping the good trends continue and some of the kinks get ironed out, because getting one on the road just because all that more important with this loss.