BOSTON – Jim Montgomery loved the way his team played for two periods. Even when they fell behind on two occasions.
It didn’t extend to the last 20 minutes.
“We slipped our game,” the Bruins coach said after the 6-3 loss of Game 2. “For a team that’s been really good in the third period for so long, it’s an opportunity for us to learn and grow from that.”
1. The Bruins missed Patrice Bergeron’s calming presence as well as his play. The captain was unavailable for the second consecutive match due to an upper body injury. The Bruins paid the price on Wednesday for an appearance in the regular season finale against the Canadiens when he was injured.
Not only had he missed on the ice, but the Bruins could have used his drive off the bench in the third period.
“When we were down 4-2, I didn’t think we’d regroup and reset,” Montgomery said. “Most of the year, we were able to take a breath and reset and get back on our game. We didn’t get back on our game when it was 4-2. I thought we got back on our game in the first and second half. Every time we fell behind, we got back on our game.”
2. It is impossible to say how Jeremy Swaiman fared in the second game. Rather than continue the goaltending rotation, the Bruins went with Linus Allmark for his second straight start.
However, it is fair to say that Ollmark did better than he did on Wednesday. according to MoneyPuckAllmark was at -1.63 goals saved above expected in all situations. Allmark allowed five goals on two occasions during the regular season: once in a 6-5 overtime win against the Penguins and a second time in a 6-3 loss to the Blackhawks.
On Florida’s first goal, Allmark might have been able to reach the puck first had he left his crease. Instead, Sam Bennett found the disc and slid it through the Allmark pads.
22 seconds into the third, Brandon Montour broke the tie at 2-2 with a long range serve. Allmark was unable to locate Montour’s shot through Alexander Barkov and Charlie McAvoy, who were fighting for position up front.
Montour scored his second goal of the night with another long range shot. Once again, Ullmark was unable to find the puck through Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle, who were challenging the shot.
Now Montgomery and goaltending coach Bob Esensa must determine if Allmark should get a third straight start. Last season, Swaiman netted in the third game against the Hurricanes. However, the Bruins lost their first two games.
3. Montgomery believed that the Bruins moved the puck better out of the defensive zone in Game 2 than in Game 1. But the mistakes they made in losing were horrific.
In the first, while holding the right wall, Brandon Carlow threw an exit lane into the middle of the ice. Matthew Tkachuk easily intercepted the pass and Bennett fired for the opening goal.
In the third, McAvoy did well to block Eto’o Lostarainen’s first drive. But then Bennett arrived as F2. McAvoy could barely get rid of the puck before Bennett slotted it into the boards. Because of the ferocity of Bennett’s reach, Tkachuk won the pinch and fed Carter Verhaig to an empty dunk. Olmark had no chance.
“The first two periods, we were doing really good things with the puck,” said Montgomery. But the transformations we witnessed tonight were catastrophic. They were in the middle of the ice. Not typical for circulation. We usually have turnovers when the other team forces us or we try to play. It wasn’t really in the areas where you’re trying to make plays that we flipped.”
4. Matt Grzelcyk has been a healthy scratch in the first two games. That may change. The Bruins could use Grzelcyk’s moving sharpness to thwart Florida’s heavy mortgage check. He could replace Derek Forport at No. 3 pair.
The problem with the switch will be that the Panthers will get their final change in Games 3 and 4. This should allow coach Paul Morris to improve his tackles against Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton.
But it may be something Montgomery is willing to put up with. Forbort played 14:03, the fewest of any defensive team. Play 1:18 on the penalty for murder, which is bread and butter.
“It gives me pause to think about the changes all around,” Montgomery said of adjusting his lineup after losing Game 2.
5. David Pasternak was nowhere to be found. The right winger had only two shots on the net in 18:43 of ice time. Early in the third period, Pastrnak had the opportunity to tie the score at 3-3 after catching a pass from David Krejci. But Pasternak launched his one-time missiles off the grid.
Pastrnak also lost a puck fight to Eric Staal on center ice in the second period. Moments later, Staal pulled past Pasternak, caught a pass from Nick Cousins and edged past Allmark to break the 1-1 tie.
(Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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