Bruins' penalty killing takes a hit

Bruins' penalty killing takes a hit
January 1, 2014, 10:00 am
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John Tavares is congratulated by his Islanders teammates after scoring one of four power-play goals.

(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON – The Bruins entered Tuesday night ranked third in the NHL in penalty killing, but ended the night sixth in the league while dropping 2.3 percent to an 84.8 percent PK success rate. They allowed four power-play goals in eight chances in a 5-3 loss to the Islanders at TD Garden, and had a special teams effort that Claude Julien termed “sloppy” following the game.

Clearly some of it was bad bounces and misfortune: the Isles second PP goal was a centering pass that bounced off Zdeno Chara’s skate, and directly to Frans Nielsen before the Isles forward poked the puck past Tuukka Rask. Then the Islanders tied it up at the end of the third period when a Kyle Okposo centering pass bounced off Brad Marchand’s skate, and again eluded Rask with only three seconds remaining on the clock.

The fourth and final power-play score was a John Tavares shot smoked from the left face-off circle that Rask wasn’t able to make a play on. It was the most power play goals surrendered by the Black and Gold since an Oct. 26 loss to the New Jersey Devils when they similarly allowed four power-play strikes in defeat.

Amazingly, Zdeno Chara was on ice for three of the power play goals scored against the Bruins and was on ice for four goals altogether.

“You’ve got to give credit [to the Islanders] for the good game, but a lot of it is our own doing,” said Patrice Bergeron. “[We’re] not playing the way we should and taking too many penalties. We knew they had a good power play, and we didn’t do a good job on the PK [penalty kill]. We can give them credit but still, we could’ve played a lot better.”

Of course, much of that goes hand-in-hand with some poor choices that led to ill-timed penalties for the Bruins. It wasn’t a completely lack of discipline, but Brad Marchand getting wrapped up in a double-minor for roughing in the final seven minutes of one-goal game in the third period wasn’t a smart move.

That led directly to John Tavares second goal of the night, and blew the Bruins right out of the water with a two-goal deficit.

“You try not to let it affect you, and you try not to get frustrated,” said Milan Lucic. “But at the end of the day they capitalized on their chances on the power play, and it almost felt like that New Jersey loss earlier in the season.”

The Bruins have turned both special teams units into an undeniable strength over the last couple of months, but the loss to the Islanders was perhaps a reminder that there is still work to do for Boston. The power play and the penalty kill will be world class for the B’s once again, but they experienced a little bit of a hiccup against a pesky and surprising Isles team.