A Monday night matchup at home with the Nashville Predators ended in a 3-2 regulation loss for the Boston Bruins, who continue to play sub-.500 hockey at TD Garden this season.The play of Jonas Gustavsson, back in net two games after being yanked from action after surrendering three goals against the Calgary Flames, gave the team a chance but it wasn’t enough, as a Viktor Arvidsson goal in the final five minutes of the third period broke a 2-2 deadlock.
Defenseman Roman Josi near singlehandedly took out Boston with a two-goal performance one game after D partner Shea Weber tallied the first hat trick by a blue liner in franchise history. The B’s energy levels were up and down, but as the game went on, the visitors wrested control of the tempo and outshot the Bruins by a wide margin, 33-17.
Kevan Miller gave the B’s an early lead when his shot deflected off of Nashville defender Colton Sissons‘ skate and up under the crossbar behind backup goalie Carter Hutton. David Krejci and Matt Beleskey assisted on the defenseman’s second goal of the season, coming in his first game back after being on the shelf with an injury.
Josi tied the game with a power play marker in the final 25 seconds of the opening frame, getting some open space outside the left faceoff circle and placing the puck in a perfect shot over Gustavsson’s shoulder. The man advantage tally ended Boston’s string of 13 consecutive penalties killed.
Boston re-took the lead at 10:53 of the second period when Preds forward James Neal was given a minor for embellishment and Loui Eriksson jammed a Ryan Spooner pass home for his 10th goal of the season.
The garden party was short-lived, however, as a poor Zdeno Chara clearing attempt was intercepted by Josi while the B’s were killing a Patrice Bergeron hooking penalty taken at 11:08. It appeared that Chara was yelling at the referee for something that happened while he made the pass, and he compounded the situation by turning the wrong way and allowing Josi to skate by him with a direct path to the net. Cutting in from the right side, Josi not only evaded a weak stick check attempt by Chara, but then beat Gustavsson across the goalmouth to put the puck in on the far side, giving him his seventh goal of the season and second of the night.
That set the stage for a see-saw affair in the final frame, which saw Nashville enjoy the advantage in puck possession and scoring chances. Arvidsson took a Cody Hodgson pass, evaded Miller in the Boston zone, then deftly closed on Gustavsson, getting the goalie to bite on a failed poke check before putting the winning shot past him after skating around his prone form.
Jonas Gustavsson- His 30 saves gave the Bruins a chance to win a game they could have been blown out in. The winning goal was scored on an aggressive but ultimately ill-advised play, but the rest of Gus’s mates weren’t there last night to give him better support. If he wanted to send a message after being off his game against Calgary, mission accomplished even if he didn’t achieve the desired outcome.
Patrice Bergeron- The assist on Ericsson’s second period PPG was the 575th point of his fine career. It tied him for 11th place on the team’s all-time list. 13 more points will move him past Peter McNab for 10th place and 591 points will jump ahead of Cam Neely. Bergeron is on pace to occupy eighth place, currently held by Terry O’Reilly with 606 points. On the down side, his hooking penalty in the second period allowed the Predators to tie the score on Josi’s second power play goal of the game.
Tyler Randell- Showed Eric Nystrom why he has a reputation for being one of the nastiest fighters during his tenure with Providence. One he got his right hand free during their second period bout, Randell began pistoning his fist into Nystrom’s head, at first making contact with his helmet, but then dropping him with two consecutive shots to the face. With four goals and the toughness needed for the bottom line, Randell is doing the tough work that the B’s need for balance in their lineup.
Ryan Spooner- His pass to Eriksson was vintage Spooner, and although he was denied on what should have been a layup goal after deking Hutton out of his jock in the second period, he impressed on a couple of hard-working defensive plays. For a player who receives significant criticism for his 5-on-5 play, Spooner skated hard and made one memorable back check deep in his own zone to separate the puck from Filip Forsberg and deny a quality scoring chance.
Roman Josi- His two goals made a big difference in this one, but he also engaged Brad Marchand in his first career NHL fight. It wasn’t much of a bout, but the Swiss defender killed the Bruins last night.
Joonas Kemppainen- Suffered some kind of injury that kept him out of the lineup. Will be interesting to see how the lines look if he is unable to suit up Wednesday against Montreal.
James Neal- Called for a dive, which he may not have been guilty of, but this is what happens when you build a reputation for gamesmanship and embarrass on-ice officials. Tim Peel’s profanity-laced call was picked up by the microphones, which made it even more interesting. Neal is one of those players who generates a lot of schadenfreude, especially since it took the B’s just nine seconds to make him pay for it. When you talk about players who don’t get the benefit of the doubt in those kinds of situations, Neal is exhibit A. But, he’s not the only one…ahem…Mr. Marchand.