Life is not easy for the Bruins these days. Whether their Secretariat-in-the-Belmont lead over the NHL field is dulling their edges or free-and-easy, lesser teams are looking for a nice notch on their belt, the B’s have looked quite pedestrian over the last week.
This time it was lowly Chicago Blackhawks who took their shot, and they landed it on the B’s chin, scoring four third-period goals to beat the B’s, 6-3, at the United Center. The B’s gave up prime scoring chances again and, in a rarity, Linus Ullmark did not come up with the stops to cover the blemishes. The B’s have lost two straight and three of their last four.
After the B’s took a brief lead in the third period, the Hawks tied it and then Boris Katchouk gave the Blackhawks the lead again at 6:59 of the third period when he deked Derek Forbort in the neutral zone and then beat Ullmark with a wrist shot from the right circle.
The B’s thought they’d tied it on a subsequent power play on a Tyler Bertuzzi shot and it was called a goal on the ice, but the replay showed that it hit the crossbar and post before bouncing out.
Then Taylor Raddysh scored his second goal of the game on the power play with 3:52 left, the fourth PP goal the B’s have allowed in the last three games.
David Pastrnak was awarded a penalty shot with 1:24 left to give the B’s a chance but he lost the puck on his forehand and never got off a shot.
Raddysh finally finished it off with an empty netter for the hat trick.
Pavel Zacha had given the B’s their first lead of the game at 3:02 of the third period when his low wrist shot went off Jarred Tinordi’s skate and past Alex Stalock.
But it didn’t last very long. Just 53 seconds, to be exact. There was a massive pileup in front of Ullmark. The goalie could not find the puck to freeze and no Bruin defender could clear it before Raddysh snapped it home.
For the third time in as many games, the B’s coughed up the first goal of the game to a non-playoff team, this one to a Blackhawk team that has made no bones about tanking for an chance to land Connor Bedard.
First the first 10 minutes or so, it appeared as though it would be inevitable that the B’s would gain the first lead as they spent plenty of time in the Chicago end and had some good chances. Pavel Zacha had two good chances, one on he penalty kill off a beautiful Jake DeBrusk pass, but both his offerings missed the net.
After a quick lead didn’t materialize, the B’s started getting sloppy again with the puck and they paid for it. Connor Clifton carried the puck deep into the offensive zone and delivered a big hit on Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy. He regained control and took the puck back up to the right point, but his pass missed David Pastrnak and Clifton found himself in a race toward the Boston end with MacKenzie Entwistle.
Entwistle got to the puck, but it appeared Clifton was in good position to defend. Whether gassed or he miscalculated, Clifton backed off and allowed Entwistle a path to the net. The Blackhawk was able to shovel the puck short side past Ullmark at 14:29.
The B’s puck management issues only grew after that and they wound up getting outshot 10-7 in the first. It wasn’t pretty.
“It’s not good hockey to start and there’s no excuse for it,” Charlie Coyle told NESN after the first. “We’ve got to be ready to go from puck drop and we weren’t, (myself included). That’s an issue.”
After Ullmark had to come up with good paddle save on Philipp Kurashev to keep it a one-goal deficit, the B’s turned up the pressure but goalie Petr Mrazek made some excellent saves to preserve the Blackhawk lead.
But after taking a Dmitry Orlov slapper off the mask, Mrazek made two good stops on Trent Frederic and then had to leave the game with injury. In came Alex Stalock.
Finally, the B’s got on the board at 14:58 when Hampus Lindholm’s shot went through DeBrusk, off a Chicago defender and past Stalock to make it 1-1, for Lindholm’s ninth of the year..
But after all that work, the B’s coughed up another go-ahead goal just 1:34 later when the Blackhawks hemmed in the B’s top line in their own end before Boris Katchouk fed Joey Anderson for the 2-1 lead.
But with 11 seconds left in the period, the B’s tied it again. Lindholm sent a puck in deep and Bertuzzi simply beat Seth Jones in the puck battle. The newest Bruin made a good centering pass for Frederic, who nudged his 14th goal between Stalock’s pads to make it 2-2.