Bruins win despite another sloppy effortBy MIKE LOFTUS
The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.
March 07. 2018 9:47PM
BOSTON — As recently as last Thursday, when they beat the Penguins 8-4, the score suggested the Bruins won despite getting a little sloppy.
Tuesday night, there was no doubt.
Playing their first game without standout rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy (sprained MCL), their fourth in a row without No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron (fractured foot) and second straight without No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask (lower body injury), the B’s repeatedly let one of the NHL’s weakest offensive teams stay in the game at TD Garden.
Ahead 2-0 after less than a minute, and later up by scores of 4-2 and 5-3, it took the B’s forever to finally win, 6-5, when Brad Marchand completed a hat trick 34 seconds into overtime. It was Marchand’s second OT winner in as many games, and sealed the Bruins’ fourth straight victory.
Marchand added two assists to finish a five-point night, while Torey Krug, whose rebound Marchand buried for the winner, had two goals and two assists. Anton Khudobin, who gave up a goal on the Wings’ first shot of the night, finished with a 30-save win.
The suddenness with which the Bruins gave up the 2-0, first-minute lead built on goals by Krug (37-second mark) and rookie winger Jake DeBrusk (0:52) revealed how vulnerable they can be without their defensive leaders.
Frans Nielsen brought the Wings within 2-1 by scoring a power-play goal just six seconds after Tommy Wingels went to the box for slashing Luke Glendening as the latter tried to leave the defensive zone.
Major gaps in defensive zone coverage left Wings defenseman Mike Green alone for the tying goal at 7:53. Brandon Carlo, teamed at even strength with Zdeno Chara for the first time since last season, got beaten off the wall, and nobody among Chara, Riley Nash, Marchand and Rick Nash had the slot or right circle covered.
Krug’s second of the game, scored 20 seconds into a power play, put the Bruins back ahead with 6:32 left in the first period. He crept in from the left point and redirected Marchand’s perfect circle-to-circle pass through Wings goalie Jared Coreau, who made his first NHL appearance this season.
Coreau, who allowed goals on the Bruins’ first two shots, was replaced by Jimmy Howard at 3:27 of the second period, when Krug returned Marchand’s favor during a power play. Krug’s diagonal, high-to-low feed found Marchand in the right circle, from where he hit the far side from a sharp angle.
Anthony Mantha pulled the Wings within 4-3, however, taking advantage of the Bruins’ defensive zone disorganization after killing Carlo’s interference penalty. Marchand’s second of the night, and tying Bergeron for the team lead at 27, by banking a rebound off Howard at 13:18, but the B’s couldn’t even maintain that two-goal (5-3) lead for three minutes.
Mantha struck again with 4:10 left in the period, after Chara mishandled a dumped-in puck, and then stumbled trying to control it in the right circle.
Martin Frk’s goal halfway through the third period ultimately forced overtime.