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Talking Points: Letdown For Boston Bruins In Jersey Loss

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Here are the Talking Points from the Boston Bruins 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

GOLD STAR: Pavel Zacha was the right guy in the right place at the right time for the Devils on Tuesday night. It was Zacha that buried the Bruins in overtime with a backhander that he roofed top shelf to end things in the extra session. Zacha had also opened the scoring in the first period on the power play with a one-timer blast that beat Jaroslav Halak off a Devils face-off win in the offensive zone. Zacha finished with two goals in 18:22 of ice time with three shots on net, four hits and a couple of face-off losses in an efficient offensive night. Zacha clearly wasn’t the only standout for New Jersey as Jack Hughes had a couple assists and a plus-3 rating, and Jesper Boqvist had a goal and five shot attempts in a scrappy, game effort for New Jersey.

BLACK EYE: Unfortunately for Jaroslav Halak, the four goals allowed, and an overtime loss probably means there isn’t going to be a spot for him at the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Sure, Bruins rookie Jeremy Swayman could stumble in his final couple of games and maybe that would again open the door for Halak to secure the backup spot. But there was a reason Halak looked upset as he was coming off the ice following the overtime goal, as he snapped his goalie stick with a couple of mighty swings and then kicked the stool at the Bruins bench as he was leaving the ice. It’s because Halak needed to make enough stops to be the winning goalie if he wanted to seize his job back at least for the playoffs. But it sure feels like Halak’s outburst had as much to do with Swayman’s excellence as it did with his average performance in the loss. The B’s goaltending situation may be taking off without him to start the postseason.

TURNING POINT: The Boston Bruins had a 2-1 lead after the first 40 minutes and appeared poised for yet another win over a hapless opponent in the New Jersey Devils. But they weren’t playing a particularly intense brand of hockey even with the lead and that malaise caught up to them in the third period as the Devils scored a pair of goals to push overtime. The Bruins were never able to take full control of the game, gave up a pair of goals that featured mistakes in the defensive zone and then opened up to an overtime where they didn’t show much. In essence, though, it was an overall effort where the Bruins appeared distracted after clinching the playoff spot the night before against the Devils. So, a letdown was natural for the Bruins and it was pretty clearly there.

HONORABLE MENTION: While there were some pretty good Boston Bruins performers in the loss, Sean Kuraly was the best of the bunch as he continues to play at a high level of hockey down the stretch. Kuraly scored a goal in the third period that gave the B’s a 3-2 lead and that’s really where the Bruins began to ease off the gas pedal. But that wasn’t his fault as he finished with the goal, nine shot attempts, three registered hits, one takeaway and 8-of-12 face-off wins in an excellent all-around effort as the third line center. Kuraly had to take on an even bigger role in the third period as Charlie Coyle left the game with an injury, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to push the Bruins over the top in a game where they weren’t firing on every level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 – the number of shots on net for the Bruins during the overtime session that the Devils eventually took with the Zacha game-winner.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I don’t think it was our best night from the back end in terms of defending the middle of the ice and being good 1-on-1. We kind of stumbled on one of those one-on-one plays. We need to close out better, plain and simple. Stuff that we typically do well, we didn’t tonight.” –Bruce Cassidy

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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