The game seemed in hand, once again, on home ice.
But a quick pair of Toronto goals midway through the third made it a 3-3 game. The Leafs would take the game, 4-3, in overtime.
It marked the Bruins’ second straight loss, though the most recent defeat came a week ago on Jan. 26 before the NHL’s All-Star Break.
They had won five of seven games prior to that loss to Anaheim.
“Good teams, they put lots of games together, and it seems like we play two games good and then for a few games we let it slip away,” a frustrated David Krejci said postgame. “Obviously we have a long way to be a great team, so we have to learn from those mistakes.”
“But this is the time to do that — we don’t want to be playing catch-up hockey in March or April, so any point’s crucial, and we definitely let this one slip away from us.”
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead in the first period, thanks to Brad Marchand continuing his torrid scoring pace.
The Leafs’ Daniel Winnik made it 1-1 in the second with a deflection off a long-range shot from the right boards.
Marchand’s rebound goal at just 55 seconds into the third — his second of the game, seventh in seven games, and 22nd on the season — appeared to be a good omen for the Bruins.
Krejci took advantage of a loose puck around James Reimer 26 seconds later to give the Bruins the all-too-comfortable two-goal lead.
At 9:02 into the third, Leo Komarov mirrored Winnik’s goal, tipping in a point shot fired from the boards. Just 2:29 later, Nazem Kadri found enough room in the slot to perfectly put a deflection past Tuukka Rask.
“You can maybe talk about lucky bounces on their side, a couple of tips in the high slot, but we stopped to playing to win after we scored those two quick goals,” said Krejci.
“There’s many, many mistakes happening – we don’t get the puck out, and it’s just a sum of many, many mistakes and then it ends up here in our net,” said Rask, who ended the night with 31 saves on 35 shots.
“Too bad it was so drastic today.”
P.A. Parenteau lifted the Leafs to their 4-3 win during a 4-on-3 power play opportunity at 3:06 into overtime, giving them three straight unanswered goals.
“I don’t think it was relaxing. I just think we’ve got to clean up that part of our game,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “Just before they scored the second goal, we make a stretch pass in the middle, it kind of bounces and stops at the blueline and we’ve got two players that skate by it, just don’t even stop to just dump in.”
“You know, we shoot ourselves in the foot I think, in those situations.”
The Bruins played decent hockey. They put pressure on Toronto in the first period, and generated chances on their power play opportunities, despite not scoring on them. They came out strong in the third period, with the game knotted at 1-1, and were determined to win. The two quick goals showed that.
“Then we turn around and we get sloppy again,” Julien lamented. “So I don’t know if it’s relaxing or losing focus, but certainly not good enough right now for our hockey team to think that we can contend if we keep making those kind of mistakes.”
The Bruins next head to Buffalo after Wednesday’s practice for a Thursday night matchup with the Sabres — a team that has given them plenty of third period trouble this season. They’ll need to correct their mistakes from Tuesday night.
“Just look at the goals – they’re all very similar, those three goals at least, so maybe that’s something,” said Rask.
“To me, that’s poor coverage — all three goals are kind of tipped from 10-15 from our net, so the slot area was not covered very well,” said Julien. “The coverage wasn’t how it should have been.”
With 50 games in the books, and 32 more on tap, there’s time for the Black & Gold to get their game in line.
But picking up one point, instead of the two they should have earned, isn’t how they want to spend the rest of the season. Only six points separate five teams in the Atlantic Division.
“With the way things are right now in the standings, you can’t give up points like that and it’s what it’s going to come down to at the end of the year,” said Marchand. “Every point right now is huge. You know, Krech was right: good teams don’t lose games like that and we’ve done it a few times.”
“Obviously we have some stuff we need to continue to work on, and maybe that confidence is a factor, but it’s something we definitely have to work on.”