It's becoming a familiar pattern with the 2015-16 Bruins; play well for an extended stretch of time, put together an impressive winning streak, then play a sloppy game in losing to a not-exactly-awe-worthy opponent. For the Bruins, this has often signaled the coming of a rough stretch. Coming into tonight riding a three-game win streak, the Bruins sat at 4th in the Atlantic already, so it's not how many more "rough stretches" this team can really have. While it helps that the teams directly behind them have had their struggles, the Bruins need to find a more consistent level of play.
To be fair, they were beat by a player whose consistently great play has made him a cornerstone for the Canucks. It was Daniel Sedin (his twin brother, Henrik Sedin, was on the shelf due to injury) who managed to cram home a rebound a little over 7 minutes into the third period, turning a 2-2 contest into a 3-2 Canucks lead. It was Sedin again who buried the empty-netter with a little over 20 seconds remaining to officially bury the Bruins. The first goal made Daniel the all-time franchise leader in goals, breaking a tie with Markus Naslund. The ENG was number 348. Congratulations to him, grumble grumble and such.
Maybe it should've been apparently early in this one that it wasn't the Bruins night when Sven Baertschi scored the opener of this one at 3:27 into the first. After opening the game with several good offensives shifts, including one where the Bruins fourth line (Landon Ferraro, Max Talbot, and Zac Rinaldo, in case you were wondering) had the Canucks pinned, the Bruins were victimized when Bo Horvat's lofted backhand pass sprung Baertschi in behind Torey Krug and the Bruins forwards. Kevan Miller was the only Bruin with a shot at the streaking Baertschi, and, while Miller did manage a sticklift, he was outskated and still allowed the 23-year-old Swiss player to get in a last-second, one-handed poke on the puck. That was all it took to get it through Rask, who, for his part, should have done better, and the Bruins were suddenly trailing after locking the Canucks in their own zone for the first three minutes.
That aside, the Bruins played about as good a first period as you can play without scoring; the Canucks never really did get much of a foothold in the first twenty minutes, with only some combination of luck and the solid Jacob Markstrom keeping the Bruins from finding the equalizer. After one, the B's were outshooting the Canucks 11-4, and both the Patrice Bergeron line and the just-returned David Krejci line had barely allowed the puck to cross the red line against them.
That all said, it was actually at the end of a much more even second period that the Bruins would finally get on the board. The middle frame saw a lot more spirit from the Canucks, and Rask was finally challenged again (equal to the task) several times. Less than a minute before the end of the period, with the game starting to feel like one of those weird contests where goals are incredibly hard to come by despite a lack of truly top-notch defensive play or goaltending, Large Adult Jimmy Hayes rifled a shot through Markstrom to tie the game at one. The goal, his 11th, put the cap on what's been a strong stretch of games from Hayes, with David Pastrnak (naturally) and Ryan Spooner getting the helpers. 1-1 would be the score heading into the final frame.
Any idea that the Bruins were going to roll over the Canucks now that they'd broken through was promptly extinguished 1:49 into the 3rd when Probably Not Your Favorite Vancouver Canuck snuck into an open space and unleashed a top-shelf bomb from the right circle (which Rask had zero shot at) to give the Canucks the lead. Two-and-a-half minutes later, Brad Marchand provided A most appropriate answer by taking a pass from Patrice Bergerson (after a terrible Jannik Hansen giveaway) and wristing a shot by Markstrom.
That brings us back to Daniel Sedin, who eluded Zach Trotman and scored on the rebound to give Vancouver the eventual game-winner. Frankly, the only golden chance after this one was a Canuck ringing iron, and a few flurries with the empty net that the Bruins didn't cash in on.
- The Bruins actually only ended up outshooting the Canucks 30-27 after the hot start, so the dominance of the first didn't last. It was still impossible to watch last night's game without thinking the Bruins blew a chance at points; they out-attempted Vancouver 55-45, and the scoring chances were 33-23 (per war-on-ice.com).
- The referees actually didn't end up calling a penalty in this entire game. This is not to say it was entirely cleanly played, as they definitely let a few things go--the middle was clogged, not entirely legally--by both teams for much of the night--but mostly just to note that the entire game was played at Even Strength. Perhaps needless to say, that actually hasn't favored the Bruins this season.
- The Canucks 20th win of the season put them in 2nd in the Pacific when this game ended. The Bruins remain in 4th in the Atlantic going into tomorrow's contest with the last-place-in-the-Metro Columbus Blue Jackets.
- David Krejci played 18:44 in his return, looking healthy in doing so. He was held without a point, but it's just good to have him back.
- I don't know who actually was responsible for the coverage breakdown on Daniel Sedin's first goal, and sometimes you have to just tip your cap when a great player scores, but what with Trotman chasing after Sedin as he scored, I would not be surprised to see Trotman and Colin Miller get swapped again in the near future.