The Bruins’ eight-game playoff win streak ended with a thud, marred by missed opportunities and continued futility from their best players.
One of the hottest teams in the NHL over the past two rounds of the playoffs, Boston was beaten up during their 3-2 overtime loss to the Blues in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night.
Carl Gunnarsson’s goal gave St. Louis the victory, but it came after the Bruins’ top line was shut down again. Boston had to get a boost from its fourth line to keep pace with an invigorated Blues attack.
The Bruins head to St. Louis suddenly facing questions of how to jumpstart their offense after watching their dynamic scorers silenced for the second straight game. Game 3 is Saturday night.
“Missed opportunity,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They seemed to play with more urgency tonight than they did in the first game. They didn’t allow us to get the space. As a result, we didn’t seem to win as many races as we did in Game 1 to the pucks. Some of that is on us.”
St. Louis allowed only first-period goals by Charlie Coyle and Joakim Nordstrom and limited Boston’s first line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak to seven shots on net.
Through the first two games, the trio is a combined minus-7 when they are on the ice. They still don’t have an even-strength point in the series. Marchand has the only goal between them, an empty netter in the closing minutes of Game 1.
“Yeah, we need to do better. We can’t play like that,” Marchand said. “We can control the mistakes that are made.”
During the win streak, Boston held a 32-11 scoring margin, scored a startling 34.5% of the time on the power play and limited opponents to 3.8% with the man advantage (1 of 26). Goaltender Tuukka Rask also was a virtual wall between the pipes, with an 1.38 goals-against average and two shutouts. Six of Boston’s eight wins also came by two or more goals.
None of that mattered in Game 2.
Despite being handed five power-play opportunities for the second time in as many games, Boston’s lone power-play goal came 3:55 into the game when Coyle capitalized on a goaltender interference penalty called on Blues’ winger Sammy Blais.
Rask was far more busy this game, too. After turning aside 20 shots in the opener, he managed to stop 33 shots but didn’t get much help from a defense that allowed the Blues to pile up a 37-23 advantage in shots.
It also didn’t help that defenseman Matt Grzelyk left the game in the first period when he went down following a check into the boards by Oskar Sundqvist. He was helped off the ice and sent to a hospital for evaluation. His status for Game 3 was to be determined.
“They were the better team,” Rask said. “You scout enough and see enough video to know what the other team is all about. You got to play like you have a chance to win. Obviously Grizzy going down in the first, were are down to five on D. … You’ve got to simplify things and they were just hard on us so we couldn’t get any room and were off our game.”
Coyle said despite a rough night, the team is confident the issues can be fixed.
“You can’t get too high or too low. It’s 1-to-1. We’re still in a good spot here,” he said. “We just have to go into their building and try to get one. That’s all you can do.”