BOSTON — Depending on if you’re a glass half full or glass half empty person, the Boston Bruins’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals Saturday night at TD Garden was either a solid point earned against the best team in the Eastern Conference or a choke job that wasted one of the best goaltending performances by a Bruins goalie in recent memory.
Bruins goalie Jaro Halak made 42 saves in regulation and overtime and then three out of five shooters in the shootout, but the B’s still couldn’t come away with the two points as they blew a 2-1 lead late on a goal by Capitals forward T.J. Oshie with 58.6 ticks left in regulation. Jakub Vrana scored the shootout winner and the Bruins are now 0-for-4 in the shootout.
Without Patrice Bergeron Saturday, the Bruins still ended up getting three of a possible four points in their back-to-back set that began with a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs Friday night in Toronto, but they were left knowing they could’ve come away with four points and woke up Sunday trailing the Capitals by just one point for the best record in the East. They also would’ve been leading the Atlantic Division by four points instead of three over the Montreal Canadiens, who lost 4-3 in overtime to the New Jersey Devils.
Since the third period Saturday wasn’t close to the epic collapse this past Tuesday that saw them blow a 4-0 third period lead to the Florida Panthers and lose 5-4 in the shootout, we’re going to take the glass half full approach here. Truth be told, with the exception of the last few minutes against the Capitals, the Bruins did a lot of good things even with the Caps out-shooting them 44-23.
Jaro Halak (A+)
After making acrobatic and magical save after save to give his team a chance at winning their second straight game and a sweep of their back-to-back set with the Maple Leafs and Capitals, but watching them breakdown in front of him in the final minute, it’s no wonder Halak declined to face the media after the game. Chances are, he’d either say something about his teammates he’d later regret or he would’ve bit the corner of his tongue off trying not to. Halak carried the tired and undermanned Bruins who were without their best player in Bergeron, Torey Krug, as well as five other regulars. The Bruins netminder stoned Alexander Ovechkin twice in regulation and overtime and then again in the shootout.
“He made huge saves out there,” Krejci said. “Not just the one in the shootout on ‘Ovie’ but throughout the whole game. He kept us in the game and obviously feel bad for him, even though he played a hell of a game.”
Charlie McAvoy (A+)
Prior to leaving for Toronto for their tilt with the Leafs Friday night, head coach Bruce Cassidy said that while he thought defenseman Charlie McAvoy had been playing well, he still “had more to offer” and hadn’t reached his ceiling yet. Well, in the 4-2 win against the Leafs, McAvoy didn’t register a point, but he played a very solid and effective 23:24 and broke up an Andreas Johnsson breakaway attempt after getting beat just outside the blue line. On Saturday McAvoy was tasked with shutting down Ovechkin and the 21-year-old rearguard did just that, holding Ovechkin to no points and also once again recovering with hustle to break up an Ovechkin breakaway attempt with just under ten minutes left in the third period.
Great job by Charlie McAvoy to close in on Alex Ovechkin and break up a prime scoring chance. pic.twitter.com/pwilAKGGAy
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) November 17, 2019
Cassidy was impressed with what he saw from McAvoy Saturday.
“He was terrific tonight,” Cassidy said of McAvoy. “Level of competition tends to bring out the best in Charlie, we certainly saw that tonight. We needed it against a heavier group. I think he took the challenge head-on. It’s a tougher game for the [Connor] Cliftons and the [Matt] Grzelcyks of the world. Played a lot of minutes, and Charlie was really good in that way, both ends of the ice. So yes, I thought he was excellent.”
Bjork-Coyle-Heinen Line (A)
For the first month of the season, the Bruins leaned heavily on what was the hottest and best line in the NHL, their top line of Brad Marchand-Bergeron-David Pastrnak and rightfully so. They’re were scorching their opponents and rewriting the record books almost every game as October wound down. Now though, as teams have adjusted, the Bruins have needed other lines to step up and with Bergeron (lower-body) out of the lineup Saturday, it was the second line of Anders Bjork-Charlie Coyle-Danton Heinen that as they did in Toronto, provided speed, a solid two-way game, and points. Coyle extended his point streak to four games with a goal at 11:32 of the first period and it was another beautiful and hard-working play down low that got the job done.
Coyle credited the only one of the trio, Bjork, that didn’t get a point.
“He’s going to those dirty areas,” Coyle said of his linemate who’s not known for his physical prowess. “He’s not the biggest guy, not the buffest or anything, but a guy like that, he foes to the dirty areas and pays the price. …I don’t even think he gets a point on that, but that’s what makes the play there. It’s those little details and he’s buying into that.”
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) November 17, 2019