Tuukka Rask tried to steal the Bruins a win, but his teammates didn’t give him anything to steal.
The majority of the Bruins in Game 5 were no-shows in what ended up as a 2-1 loss Friday night at TD Garden. And now, because of another lackluster performance, the Bruins will be fighting for their playoff lives Sunday afternoon in Toronto.
“We’ve had better games. I don’t think either team was great, but it was the difference of one play,” said Brad Marchand who tied with David Pastrnak for a team-high five shots on goal.
“Game is over now, worry about the next one.”
Because of how poorly they played in Game 5, the Bruins will have to worry a bit more about the next one, as the potential of it being their last one is now in play.
For most of the game, it seemed as if both teams were taking the conservative route, trying to avoid being the first to make a mistake. As the game moved along and the game remained scoreless, it became more evident that one mistake could very well be the difference in the game.
That mistake came via Auston Matthews’ fourth goal of the series, breaking the scoreless tie.
There were two mistakes on the goal, however. One by the Bruins allowing Matthews to be as wide open inside the faceoff circle as he was. The second mistake by the on-ice officials and the league for allowing the goal to stand after deeming Zach Hyman did not interfere with Rask.
My initial thought on the play was after seeing Rask push off of Hyman when contact was made, and making an attempt to slide across the crease to get to Matthews’ shot, the league saw that as Rask regaining position.
But as Conor Ryan of the Boston Sports Journal points out
,if the below in Friday’s Game 5 between the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche was waived off, then what the heck were we doing on Matthews’ goal, Toronto?
“Well, clearly (Hyman) interferes with Tuukka,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy. “It goes to Toronto, and they have to make a decision. I just hope they don’t predict whether they thought the goalie could make the save, get across in time to determine whether it’s interference. It’s either interference or it’s not.”
As much as Matthews’ goal was a big blow to the Bruins, it’s not the sole reason as to why they lost. The Bruins are facing elimination because they failed to show up for a pivotal playoff hockey game.
Getting pucks to the net was a major problem for the Bruins Friday night, as they managed just six first period shots, nine in the second period and then 14 in the third.
“The only thing I remember was, after the first period, we had six shots,” said Pastrnak who assisted on David Krejci’s late third period goal. “Put more pucks on their goalie. We scored five last game, so we’ve got to make sure we shoot everything to the net and recover pucks and just a little bit more offense, I guess.”
The Bruins had several chances in the first two periods to get themselves on the board first, and spark a home crowd that was begging for any sort of excitement. But after being gifted the game’s first three power play opportunities, the Bruins couldn’t manage any sort of momentum from them.
“Yeah, any time you don’t score on a few power plays like that it’s frustrating,” said Marchand. “This series has essentially been about special teams, so it would’ve been nice to get one, but we didn’t.”
With each of his four forward lines failing to produce any sort of life on the ice, Cassidy was shuffling his lines throughout the entire game, with nothing to show for it. Seven different line combinations logged over two minutes of five-on-five ice time, with none of those seven skating together for more than eight minutes of even strength time.
Part of the problem for Cassidy was what he was getting from his bottom-six, or what he wasn’t getting I should say.
“I didn’t think that we had energy in the bottom of our lineup. They don’t generally play their fourth line a lot, so if our fourth line and the guys we use in that roll aren’t going together in sync then it works against us. That’s the way I saw it,” said Cassidy.
Outside of Charlie Coyle—two shots on goal and three hits in 16:50 of ice time—and Marcus Johansson—four shots on goal, —the Bruins top-six were some of the Bruins many no-shows.
David Backes finished with a grand total of 4:36 of ice time, Danton Heinen—who was quickly moved off of the Bergeron line—failed to put a shot on goal, and Noel Acciari was out-attempted five-on-five by eight shots attempts.
Regardless of who was playing to the right of Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, the Auston Matthews and John Tavares lines got the better of the Bruins dynamic duo five-on-five.
Marchand and Bergeron played 5:54 five-on-five seconds against Tavares, and 4:58 against Matthews. Overall, the pair lost the five-on-five battle in shot attempts 11-7, shots 6-3, scoring chances 4-3 and goals 1-0.
“Yeah, tonight, I don’t think there were a lot of 5v5 chances either way, to be honest with you. It was a pretty tight game,” added Cassidy.
“Tonight, we went a different direction, well, we used both. Bergy’s [Bergeron] going to play against both Tavares and Matthews. We obviously would like to see them generate more, but there’s not a lot of room out there. We’ve said it. I think Toronto has done a better job defensively on us. We have to fight our way through it.”
There wasn’t much fight in the Bruins game, other than Rask.
I thought Game 5 was Rask’s best of the series and he did everything he could to steal the win. I don’t know, maybe he should have scored a goal as well?
“He was great. Made the stops that he had to, and those two plays – or breakdowns – were backdoor plays so there’s not much he can really do there,” Bergeron said of Rask.
Rask made 25 saves on 27 shots, and according to Natural Stat Trick
stopped all five shots he saw from high danger areas.
Overall its’s been a frustrating series for the Bruins, one that the Maple Leafs have been by far the better team. Outside of Game 2, you can’t find a game in the series where the Bruins were clearly the better of the two teams.
“We just got to be better. You know, we’re going to have our back against the wall, so we have to learn from this game and be better and honestly play desperate hockey and get a W no matter what it takes,” said Krejci.
As cliché as it might sound, being better in Game 6 starts with showing up to play a playoff hockey game, and getting more pucks on net.