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Talking Points: Boston Bruins Fall In Physical Shootout Loss

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Bruce Cassidy

Here are the Talking Points from the Boston Bruins 2-1 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals in Zdeno Chara’s return to TD Garden on Wednesday night.

GOLD STAR: Credit the Boston Bruins coaching staff for challenging the offside play in the first period that wiped a Capitals goal off the board. The Bruins had nothing really going offensively and then had a defensive zone breakdown with both Jared Tinordi and Connor Clifton chasing after TJ Oshie with the puck and leaving the entire slot wide open in the defensive zone. Oshie flipped a pass to a wide-open Richard Panik and eventually scored on a play at the net, but the Bruins challenged that the looping dump-in attempt had the Capitals attackers offside. It was a challenge that was upheld by the NHL’s situation room and took a good Washington goal off the board. That allowed the game to be scoreless through two periods and ended up pushing a 1-1 tie into overtime and the shootout, and essentially saved the Bruins a point on the evening. So, a stick tap to the Bruins video staff and coaches for opting for the challenge.

BLACK EYE: Sean Kuraly hasn’t been playing a particularly crisp brand of hockey and was at the heart of a bad turnover that led to Washington’s game-tying goal in the third period. It was an unforced error for Kuraly who was walking through the defensive zone and attempted a cross-ice pass that was picked off by TJ Oshie and eventually turned into a Lars Eller goal that tied up the game. Kuraly finished a minus-1 for the game with a couple turnovers in 11:54 of ice time and is now a combined minus-7 over the last five games while struggling pretty mightily. It might be time for Kuraly to hit the pine as a healthy scratch if he continues to make the mistakes he’s making in the defensive zone, particularly when he’s just throwing a puck away without being pressured like what happened in the third period.

TURNING POINT: The ultimate turning point for the Bruins was the shootout as Jake DeBrusk, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand all didn’t come anywhere close to scoring on Vitek Vanacek in the extra session. Jakub Vrana scored on a nifty double-move on Tuukka Rask at the other end of the ice and the Bruins ultimately came up short in the shootout as they have many, many times over the years. Really once regulation was over it wasn’t very good for the Bruins as they were outshot 5-1 in the overtime session and then never really got anywhere close in the shootout. So, any hope of winning this game really melted away once they couldn’t get it done in regulation after a good, old-fashioned battle for 60 minutes.

HONORABLE MENTION: He didn’t factor in the scoring, but Alex Ovechkin was all over the place for the Washington Capitals firing off pucks from everywhere imaginable. Tuukka Rask was up to the task stopping him every single time, including a double-stacked beauty in the third period, but Ovechkin was active with five shots on net, 16 shot attempts and six hits in a truculent kind of game. Ovechkin had some memorable battles with Trent Frederic throughout the night as well, punctuated with Ovechkin catching Frederic with a spear to the family jewels as the two players skirmished in front of the benches. Ovechkin and Frederic were whistled for matching penalties, and one has to wonder whether there could be a fine in the works for his stickwork to Frederic’s groin.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of Boston Bruins players on the COVID-19 protocol list on Wednesday as Charlie Coyle was essentially scratched a couple hours before game time when he popped up on the list after taking part in Wednesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Seems like the ice was heavier for both teams. It didn’t lend itself to a lot of crisp plays. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re satisfied, but they’ve got a good team over there and we have some young team that need to learn how to play against those big, heavy kind of players.” –Bruce Cassidy, on a slugfest between the Bruins and Capitals that ended in a 2-1 shootout loss.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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