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Bruins, Gustavsson, Lose to Sabres in Third-Period Meltdown, 6-3

Don't forget to read the warning label on your back-up goaltender. And maybe clear the puck.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Boston Bruins held a 2-1 advantage in last night's contest against the 7th-Place Buffalo Sabres at the end of two periods, and, when David Krejci scored his 10th of the year--Assisted by Loui Eriksson, who seemingly can do no wrong these days--one second shy of seven minutes into the third period, they held a 3-1 advantage. The Bruins came into tonight 12-1-1 when leading after two periods, and then they extended that lead.

You probably already know what came next, but if you don't, or just want to gain a little context on the situation, let us briefly review the credentials of one Jonas Gustavsson, Bruins Back-Up Goaltender. Through November, Gustavsson had appeared in six games, with the Bruins going 5-1 in those games. In those appearances he stopped 149 of 162, good for a pretty darn solid .919 SV%. .920 if you round up, as the 4th digit is 7.

Welp, that's not really who Gustavsson is. compare those numbers above to Gustavsson's career stats, which currently sits at a .901 over the span of 159 games.  After tonight's contest, it is .906 on the year. The bubble has popped. That's not to say that Gustavsson is without his uses or "call up a Providence goalie now" but it is to say that, most nights, he simply does not cover up the mistakes that Tuukka Rask has been papering over.

But oh, the pain, if one gets too deep into expecting things from Gustavsson's smoke-and-mirrors routine. It's one thing to say, "JG just had a good game against the Devils and he's not very good, so Buffalo might light the lamp a lot tonight," and it's another thing to actually watch a game where the Bruins are up 3-1 and then this all happens:

  • At 10:21 into the 3rd period, Ryan O'Reilly scored after a point shot from Mike Weber richocheted off the end boards and right to him at the right side of the net, whacking the puck home as Gustavsson couldn't quite seal off the post. 3-2.
  • 39 seconds later, BU-product Jack Eichel scored by luring Gustavsson off his line at right circle and banking a shot off Kevan Miller's skates as the latter tried to defend Evander Kane's net-drive. It wasn't good coverage by Miller and the rest of the Bruins, but Gustavsson coming that far out was kind of odd. Tied at 3.
  • With 5:36 left in the game, Jamie McGinn took advantage of a series of Bruins defensive lapses--to be fair to the Bruins defensive corps, they were running with only five players after Torey Krug left in the first period and did not return--and absolutely roofed a feed from O'Reilly. 4-3 Sabres.
In the span of 4 minutes, the Sabres had gone from trailing 3-1 to leading 4-3. The Bruins had seen their very-like first-place-gaining points slip away, and they wouldn't be able to beat old pal Chad Johnson again for the duration. Gustavsson's brutally quick return to Gustavsson-typical was punctuated by the fact that all three goals might have been stopped. It's not that all three were bad goals allowed (McGinn's in particular would've taken positional luck to get a handle on), it's  that an actual good goaltending performance would've entailed stopped one of them, though, and that's not what the Bruins got. Could they have given him more help? Definitely. Is it generally a good move to bet the over in Gus's games? Probably!

To make things look worse in the box score, the Bruins, largely unable to get the puck on net now that they were trailing, allowed two empty net goals after Claude Julien opted for the extra attacker, so the finally tally for Buffalo was six -- totally improbable for a team that had only scored once through 50 minutes of hockey, and yet somehow pretty believable. Appropriate to the nights that they had, the ENG goals were a 155-foot shot from his own half-boards by Eichel, and O'Reilly blasting a shot by Bruins improv-goaltender David Krejci.

Tuukka Rask is ready and rested for tomorrow's tilt against the Ottawa Senators, and the other half of the home-and-home on Tuesday. After his team and back-up coughed up a 3-1 lead to not even salvage an OT point, Rask's skates really can't touch the ice in anger again soon enough.


During the happier part of this contest, the Bruins had generally, if narrowly, outplayed the younger Sabres, though it was Buffalo who actually drew first blood. Evander Kane scored the game's first goal in the second period, tapping in an Eichel rebound. Goals came in flurries in this one, though, so the Bruins answered back less than a minute later with Matt Beleskey deflecting home a Kevan Miller point-shot. Say this for Kevan, while he was typically brutal a couple times on the back end, he actually did quite nicely finding shooting lines tonight. And say that for Matt, his 5th Goal of the season was a pretty lovely deflection, and some much-needed puckluck for a guy who hasn't played badly overall. Also, it might be piling on to say that Loui Eriksson started the whole sequence by forcing a turnover, and thus grabbed the secondary helper, but Eriksson's playing out of his mind right now so I'm piling on.

Patrice Bergeron promptly untied the game a little over a minute after that, taking a pass from Brad Marchand and, with an open look from the right side, whipped the puck past a still-repositioning Chad Johnson. 2-1 Bruins, and things were looking up until the dam burst in the third.


In no particular order:

  • Just a general point, as a couple of the later bullets refer to TOI -- it'll be very interesting to see how Claude Julien breaks down TOI for tomorrow's game in Ottawa, given Krug's injury and the usage of the forwards today.
  • Ryan Spooner's line generated plenty of looks, but no goals last night. Frank Vatrano poured six shots on net, included one where Johnson was forced to make a pretty nice save on a semi-breakaway. Spooner added two more SOG. Only Jimmy Hayes generally looked ineffective.
  • It's difficult to figure out who was most hurt by Torey Krug's yet-undisclosed injury, but there weren't a great deal of highlights from Boston on the defensive side. Zdeno Chara had a first-period chance hit BOTH posts and somehow stay out, but had a mediocre night defensively despite finishing in the possession black. Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg avoided minuses, though that's definitely overstating their overall quality of play, as both ended up as possession minuses. Kevan Miller was weirdly kind of a double-edged sword, struggling for extended stretches but also bagging an Assist and generating more offense than usual. Colin Miller had at least on rather hopeless-looking sequence and looked about as off as McQuaid (only he was actually on for more of the goals against).
  • Eichel finished the night with 4 points, O'Reilly 3. For the former, it marked the first four-point game of his young career.
  • Loui Eriksson had two Assists and had basically nothing to do with the goals against while he was on, and so his strong year continues.
  • While the third line actually bagged a significant amount of TOI and its inability to get a bounce on Chad Johnson was the only thing that stopped it from having a more notoriously good night, the fourth forward unit saw only Landon Ferraro get into double-digit minutes, at 10:11. Zac Rinaldo and Tyler Randell both played less than seven minutes. Again, Claude's deployment today should be interesting.
  • Beleskey's 5th Goal brings his shooting percentage up to 7.5%--5-for-67--which is still around two points short of his career mark in that regard. Whether it's luck/variance or ineffectiveness, dude's due to score some more.
  • David Krejci's third-period goal brings him back within one point of Patrice Bergeron's team-leading 33 points.
  • While Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand mostly had their typical strong nights, fellow linemate Brett Connolly definitely struggled. Connolly missed a few defensive assignments in the third--including getting caught puck-watching on of Buffalo's non-ENGs--and generally looked a step behind his linemates.
  • Summer heartthrob Cody Franson was one of two Sabres defensemen in the possession black, and bagged a secondary helper on Ryan O'Reilly's first goal. Jake McCabe and Mike Weber joined him in the "Sabres D W/Assists" column.
  • Chad Johnson was actually pretty darn okay against us, despite the second goal being one of the more Chad-Johnson-like-goals-against. Whatever, can't blame a guy for not stopping Patrice Bergeron.
  • Both teams were 0-for-3 on the Power Play, continuing recent trends of Buffalo not finding the net on the man advantage and Boston's league-leading unit finally cooling off to "magma" levels instead of "this planet is literally made of volcanoes" levels.
  • Montreal lost to the red-hot Washington Capitals 3-1, which officially dropped them into 2nd place in light of the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. Both teams currently sit at one point ahead of the Bruins
This is the prevailing alternate theory on why the Bruins lost:


The Bruins are back at it later today, with another chance to claim first place, this time against the Sens. Montreal and Detroit are both off until tomorrow, so it's still there for the taking.