Boston, MA – After a trade deadline where the Boston Bruins shipped away prospect Axel Andersson, veteran David Backes, Danton Heinen, and a first round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Bruins were set to take on the Calgary Flames. With Ondrej Kase out on the IR, all eyes were set on newly acquired forward Nick Ritchie.
Ritchie welcomed himself to Boston in the first period with a hit to former Bruin Milan Lucic. While his beginning shifts looked promising, Ritchie would soon find himself a minus 1 in the game so far just over halfway into the opening period.
Mikael Backlund took a shot that went wide of Tuukka Rask, bounced off the glass, and onto the stick of teammate Matthew Tkachuk. With Rask out of position, Tkachuk back-handed his shot into an open net to open the scoring and give the Flames the 1-0 lead.
Calgary was given a chance to extend their lead under three minutes later as Brad Marchand was whistled for interference. However, the Flames were unable to take advantage of having the extra player as the Bruins made the kill.
Down a goal, it was not ideal when the Bruins were called for their second penalty of the night 8:46 into the second period. Karson Kuhlman was whistled for slashing, and Boston found themselves on the penalty kill for the second time of the night.
Boston found a sense of urgency when Marchand picked up a turnover from Lucic at the blue line, out-skated Noah Hanifin, and shot top-shelf over David Rittich to tie the game at one apiece.
The tie was short-lived, however, as Calgary would go on to regain and extend their lead later on in the period.
Johnny Caudreau found Sean Monahan in the slot 13:25 into the second stanza. Monahan was able to get the puck past Rask to regain the lead for the Flames.
Just over a minute later, Matt Grzelcyk was called for interference and the Flames would have their third power play of the game. This time, they would capitalize just five seconds into the player-advantage. Monahan deflected a shot in the slot to extend the Flames lead to 3-1.
As a result, Bruce Cassidy switched Jake Debrusk and Ritchie, placing DeBrusk alongside Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork, and Ritchie with David Krejci and Kuhlman.
“I did not see much energy, much offense, [and] much willingness to recover pucks,” Cassidy commented on why he switched up the lines. “The Coyle line had a rare off-night, and they are just fighting it. So, you try to mix it up a bit.”
The third and final period came quickly, and the time within the period appeared to count down twice as fast. It was not until about three minutes over halfway into the final period of play that the Bruins showed any signs of life.
After the battle in front of the Flames net resulted in the puck coming loose from Rittich, Chris Wagner jabbed it into the back of the net to pull the Bruins within one.
Cassidy said that the fourth line was their best line all game in terms of finding pucks and getting it through the neutral zone.
However, Boston’s hopes of tying the game was soon short-lived, as Backlund scored with less than two minutes to go.
Cassidy pulled Rask for the extra attacker with a minute left in regulation, but Backland scored in the empty net to seal the victory for the Flames 5-2.
“We weren’t at our best, for sure,” Marchand said on the overall performance of the team. “We didn’t have it all the way through the game. We were a little sleepy at times. Not our normal, upbeat, high-energy game. It’s gonna happen in an 82-game schedule, and we’re not going to be perfect. Unfortunately we didn’t get this one.”
“Some guys came to play, and some guys didn’t,” Cassidy said. “At the end of the day it wasn’t enough.”