Jan 15, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin celebrates with right wing Alexander Radulov after scoring the game winning goal during overtime against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
BOSTON — The bump in the standings that the Bruins received from their 3-2 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars at the Garden Monday afternoon might have been considered a very good point early in the season. They battled back from a 2-0 hole against the vastly improved Ken Hitchcock-coached team to earn that point, displaying the character they’ve consistently shown in their current 9-0-4 run.
But the standings say that the B’s are legitimate contenders and, as such, they are now holding themselves to higher standards. And the fact that they have started poorly in their last three games — all of which went to extra time — is not sitting well.
With a delayed penalty call coming on defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, the Stars controlled possession until old friend Tyler Seguin was allowed to circle through the slot and beat a helpless Anton Khudobin for the winner in OT.
When you chase the game like the Bruins have been doing, it often ends badly.
“It’s another game where we got behind the 8-ball,” said Torey Krug. “We’d been focusing on having good starts, but we weren’t able to. We found a way to come back, but there are definitely some parts to our game that we have to start looking at and sharpening up. I’m sure we’ll take a look at it tomorrow.”
The B’s managed to keep it scoreless through the first period, but that was mostly because of Khudobin (29 saves), who held the fort while the Stars got 12 of the first 13 shots on net in the game. The B’s eventually gave up the first two goals in the second period.
Under Hitchcock, the Stars are more stingy than they were a year ago. But while Dallas limited the scoring chances, the B’s did not take advantage of all the opportunities they did get. They went 0-for-4 on the power-play.
“The first two, I thought we generated some action at their net,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “But there were a couple of plays we run where we try to get pucks to the slot but not directly to the slot because they have a lot of sticks and numbers, and I thought we kind of forced them before they were ready. And the puck recovery, once you do that, hasn’t been good enough for us. It’s one thing to force a play, but you better get the puck back. I just thought we didn’t wear them down enough with second chances. That’s been a problem in the (offensive) zone lately.”
The Stars snapped the scoreless deadlock 3:49 into the second period. The two teams battled for possession of the puck up the ice until Brett Ritchie pushed it over to an uncovered Stephen Johns on the right wing. The defenseman snapped a shot over Khudobin’s glove arm for the 1-0 lead.
The visitors doubled the lead at 8:15 on a faceoff play. With Jamie Benn lining up against Patrice Bergeron in the left circle, the Stars forward snapped a shot that Khudobin made a quick pad save on, but Alexander Radulov was right there to score on the rebound.
Shortly after that, Khudobin stopped Radek Faksa on a shorthanded breakaway to keep his team in the game.
But the B’s had little going on, so Cassidy pulled out the line blender that had been gathering dust during the B’s current run. Noel Acciari remained on the bench for much of the second period while Cassidy put Riley Nash on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly and Merrimack’s Tim Schaller. The move helped produce a goal. Kuraly and Nash won a puck along the right boards, getting it back to Charlie McAvoy, who in turn swung it over to Zdeno Chara at the left point. With all the Stars defenders on the right side, it became a mano-a-mano battle between Chara and Kari Lehtonen and, with no interference in front, the captain blasted a slapper past Lehtonen on the short side with 3:32 left in the second.
For much of the third period, the Stars gave the B’s little, taking away the slot area and getting pucks out of their zone quickly. The B’s were going to have to manufacture something to tie the game — and they did, knotting it with 8:39 remaining in regulation. With Jake DeBrusk working the front of the net, Ryan Spooner flung a long-range shot that bounced off Lehtonen, then defenseman Esa Lindell before rolling over the goal line.
But thanks to Seguin, one point was all they could muster, as the B’s fell to 1-6 in games decided in overtime.