WINNIPEG – This one is going to leave a mark.
It appeared the Bruins were on their way to a victory and the Montreal Canadiens were on their way to a loss that would have given Boston first place in the Northeast Division.
But the Habs scored a late goal to secure a point and the Bruins blew a one goal lead in the third period en route to losing a 3-1 game to Winnipeg at the MTS Centre.
Blake Wheeler tied things up with a tipped puck of a Zach Bogosian shot to snap 27 straight success penalty kills for the Bruins, and Evander Kane potted the game-winner just seconds later on a rebound score.
Tuukka Rask appeared to have the initial shot covered, but then puck squirted out to his left right to Kane with no B’s defenders in front.
A poorly timed Jordan Caron hooking penalty put the Jets on the power play, and opened the door for a Winnipeg comeback that couldn’t be stopped.
The two goals came 57 seconds apart and dealt the Black and Gold a bitter loss.
After a scoreless first period the Bruins jumped on the board eight seconds into the second period off the opening face-off at center ice.
Brad Marchand harassed the Winnipeg defensemen in their own end as they attempted to gather possession before breaking it up the ice, and ended up intercepting right in front of the Jets net. He flipped a shot past Ondrej Pavelec and snapped a seven game goalless “drought” while notching his team-leading 13th score of the season.
Other than that it was a quiet, fast-paced game with both goaltenders turning away everything the other team could muster until Winnipeg turned up the heat in the second half of the third period.
Wheeler added the empty netter with 6.8 seconds to go to add insult to injury.
GOLD STAR: Blake Wheeler sparked his team with a power play goal in the third period and then added the empty net strike for his 14th goal of the season. The 14 goal mark would lead the Bruins this season and is a clear indicator of what a difference-maker the former Bruins winger has become in Winnipeg. He also mixed it up with Zdeno Chara at the end of the first period in an attempt to draw a penalty call – something that would have never, ever happened during his time in Boston. Wheeler has developed into exactly what the Bruins hoped he might when they signed him to a free agent deal. The tipped puck for Winnipeg’s first goal while camped in front of the net wasn’t part of his arsenal when he was in Boston.
BLACK EYE: Brad Marchand, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron were all on the ice for Winnipeg’s game-winning goal, and only Bergeron was anywhere near the net to potentially clear the puck. He was dropped by a Winnipeg forward in front, but neither of the Bruins defensemen were anywhere close to the cage to clear the puck once it squirted away from Tuukka Rask. The B’s goaltender needs to squeeze the puck on that play, but the Bruins defense also completely lost their composure at a key point in the third period. That can’t happen to a team that thinks they have what it takes to win the Stanley Cup again.
TURNING POINT: Jordan Caron takes a bad hooking penalty in the third period on a play where he had Zdeno Chara behind him for defensive support, and of course that’s the PP that Winnipeg scores on. That set in motion the chain of events that led to two Jets goals in 57 seconds and the ultimate demise of another third period lead for the Bruins. While the Wheeler PP goal was simply a good tip, there was plenty to dissect and gripe about with Evander Kane’s game-winner that followed.
HONORABLE MENTION: Evander Kane had a goal and five hits in 21:37 of ice time and was a player that Boston had to account for each time that he was on the ice. While Winnipeg still appears to be a team that could use another piece or two before they could be considered dangerous in the playoffs, they have enough for other teams to worry about in Kane and Wheeler it if they can get into the postseason.
BY THE NUMBERS: 32-0-0 – the Bruins’ record when leading headed into the third period last season. They have now lost five games with third period leads this season, and four of those blown third period leads have come since March 3.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Extremely disappointing. For 2 ½ periods we did great job, but to give them that [second] goal shouldn’t be acceptable. We need to be more composed in those areas. I really didn’t like that second goal. In my mind there is no way that should have gone in.” –Claude Julien, looking for answers as the Bruins let another third period advantage slip away.